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Anna, mother of a three year old boy with ASD, consulted me last week because she’s planning another pregnancy and would like to do everything possible to ensure a healthy baby. This question comes up frequently. While science has yet to fully identify the causes of autism, there’s much we can learn from children who’ve recovered in the meantime. As a practitioner who sees many children with autism and works with families using nutritional, homeopathic and biomedical interventions, there are several areas that consistently present problems in these children and that lend themselves to preventative action.

Gastrointestinal Health

Most children on the autism spectrum have significant gastrointestinal imbalances. Since a baby acquires her intestinal flora from her mother, the place to start is with mom’s digestive health. Anna has a history of an eating disorder, sugar cravings and intolerance of milk. She experiences frequent bloating, gas and discomfort. She’s been working earnestly to improve her diet for the past six months and has already seen a decrease in symptoms. I suggest that she also take a high quality probiotic supplement daily and include probiotic/fermented foods in the diet. It will be important to avoid taking antibiotics unless absolutely necessary. Most minor infections can be treated successfully with homeopathic medicines or avoided altogether through good nutrition.

Nutrition

Children on the spectrum often have a variety of nutritional deficiencies including low Magnesium, B vitamins, zinc, selenium, amino acids and fatty acids. A woman can help her baby get a head start by focusing on nurturing herself starting before conception. Eating an organic diet as much as possible, high in fresh fruits and vegetables, quality protein and healthy fats will provide the necessary nutrients for herself and baby. Anna has been researching and introducing foods based on Westin A. Price principles of healthy diets. Juicing is another way she could add nutrient dense foods.

Immune Health

Children on the autism spectrum often have significant defects in immunity. Anna herself has a history of recurrent urinary tract infections as well as seasonal allergies. The above steps to improve her digestive health and nutrition will go a long way towards boosting her immunity since over half the immune system is located in the gut. Avoiding sugar is one of the most important steps as is taking some cod liver oil to provide Vitamins A, D and Omega-3 fatty acids. I would also suggest that women avoid any vaccines during pregnancy. The recommendation for all women to have a flu shot was made without any study to document long term safety. Women can increase their immune health using herbal and homeopathic products that do not have side effects. Women who have chronic allergies, recurrent infections or autoimmune conditions should consider consulting a professional homeopath for constitutional treatment to balance their immune system prior to conception.

Detoxification

Anna has recently had several amalgam fillings removed. She sought out a dentist who is knowledgeable about procedures to minimize mercury exposure during and after amalgam removal. She’s paying close attention to all products that come into the home to be sure there are no toxic chemicals. It would be wise to assess air and water quality in the home as well. If possible, infrared sauna treatments would help her to eliminate toxins stored in the body before conception.

Exercise and Relaxation

Of course any plan for well being needs to address these important factors as well.

Just a Briefing
This is really just a brief overview of important steps to take for optimal health. Others may find these same general approaches helpful for their own situations. The factors that are involved in the etiology of autism are the same that cause a wide variety of health complaints in our population today. Genetic susceptibilities determine how these imbalances are expressed individually. These steps will help Anna to optimize her own health and increase the likelihood of a healthy pregnancy and baby.