How to Decrease the Risk of Autism Before Birth

According to Autism Speaks the prevalence of autism has raised from 1 in 166 to now being 1 in 68.  This is a major increase that many may not be aware of. As we are coming to a close for National Autism Awareness Month, I thought you all would like to have some information you can use to help you do what you can to decrease your baby’s risk of autism.

Before we dive into the tools of what you can do I thought you would like to understand how autism develops before birth so you can see how the tools and tips are helpful. It is all part of seeing the full picture.

Let’s start with Dr. Geschwind and his team. Dr. Daniel Geschwind’s research team has shown that autism develops before birth during early brain development. One of the student researchers, Neelroop Parikshak, stated “We found that gene variants are expressed in the developing brain when cells define their future identities and roles in neural circuits. Therefore, changes in the genes influence the brain’s wiring by altering the synapse and shaping how neurons transmit signals to each other.” (the pictures will give you an idea of the chain reaction in the wiring of the brain during development)

(You can also read more on Dr. Daniel Geschwind’s study here.)

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Another study in The New England Journal of Medicine found focal patches of abnormal lining of the cellular composition of the brain tissue and cortical disorganizations of neurons in the prefrontal and temporal cortical tissue in children who have autism. They also stated “An excess of neurons in the prefrontal cortex among children with autism signals a disturbance in prenatal development and may be concomitant with abnormal cell type and laminar development.” (The pictures below will give you an idea of the chain reaction of the wiring after a “disturbance”)

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So here lies the next question. What would be considered a “disturbance” in prenatal development that would be associated with how these cells and neurons are functioning?

Well, according to Autism Speaks they have come across some interesting findings over the past 10 years. Here are a few I will point out but please check it out for the full list.

#13 on their findings list:

  • “The Autism Genetic Resource Exchange showed that non-inherited influences on early brain development account for nearly half of a child’s risk for developing autism.”

#14 on their findings list:

  • “These factors include maternal infection and high exposure to air pollution during pregnancy. And now know that prenatal vitamins with folic acid can reduce the risk of autism if taken before conception and through pregnancy.”

There is also research being conducted to see if stress during pregnancy has an impact on the wiring of the brain and how these cells decided to do their job. There is more research to be done but here is a sneak peak as to what is being further investigated.

In the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders there is an article titled Timing of Prenatal Stressors and Autism that discusses findings showing an  increase in the prevalence of autism when there was prenatal stressors during weeks 21-32 of pregnancy. This study is not all inclusive but it is does indicate another route of exploration that is taking place. To better understand stress and how it plays into all this, you would benefit from reading my post on stress and fetal development.

All of the information above makes sense because the baby’s cells in all parts of their body are responding to the messages they are given about the world outside the womb. They are developing in a way for survival and to function optimally based on the information given.

So what do you do with this information?

First!

  • Stop worrying, stressing, or fearing! They do not serve you.
  • Make changes where you can and acknowledge that no single person can control everything no matter how hard we try.
  • Do your best with what you can and with the information you know.

Now that we covered all that we can move on to action 🙂

Next!

  • Eat as healthy as you can.
  • Eat fruits and vegetables of various colors such as red, purple, orange, yellow, white and green.
  • Eat food with omega-3 such as but not limited to grass fed meat, poultry, egg yolks (grass fed has highest omega-3 content) flax seed, walnuts, and salmon.
  • Eat nuts, seeds, lentils, legumes, and whole grains
  • CHILL OUT! We all forget to do this. I do all the time! We all handle stress differently and we all have a different limit for it as well. You MUST pay attention to this and respect yourself, your body, and your baby by understanding when to sit back, breath, just be, allow yourself to experience what is going on, have a way to release this stress, and then move on. The body stores stress when it is not released. Trust me you want to release it in a healthy way otherwise you have more things to stress about 😉
  • Move and be active. Movement is so healthy for us all and there are great benefits for your baby’s brain development as well. There is no secret workout, duration of workout, or heart rate. Bottom line, be active in the way you have most fun and enjoyment. Get the heart rate up and be as consistent as you can.

In summary what can you do?

Eat as healthy as you can

CHILL OUT

Move

Now if your child does have autism even after you did all that you could that is okay! There are so many great resources out there. According to Autism Speaks there is great success with early diagnosis and then taking action.

#4 on the findings list:

  • “Early intervention can change underlying brain development and activity. It’s also cost effective as it reduces the need for educational and behavioral support in grade school and beyond.”

#5 on the findings list:

  • “Though children with autism vary in how far they progress with behavioral therapy, we now have solid evidence of its benefits.”

As I was looking for information for this post I must say I have so much respect for parents, family, friends, and organizations who work together as a team and to stop viewing autism as a disease or chronic health condition.

After reading the research and finding out more information I came to this thought, autism is more like a personality trait to learn more about. Just like any one of us can be categorized or labeled as a personality type. When we learn our personality type we learn how we best communicate and how to communicate with others with different personality types as our own. See the similarity?

Overall, the key to me is working with people as people! Working with people in a way that makes sense for them and how their body was developed to opterate.

This is how we make any diagnosis just a label rather than the meaning of what kind of life lies ahead.

Now that you have read this post I would love to hear from you. Please answer this question on Facebook, IG, or even Twitter:

After reading this article what was your biggest take away?