15 Ways Mom Can Increase The Risk Of Autism (And 5 Ways To Decrease It)

Autism affects 1 out of every 68 children. No one seems to know 100% what causes autism, but there are many theories and links. Many things are to blame for autism, including certain foods, chemicals and lifestyle choices. There are many studies that link things that happen while pregnant to autism as well as things that women during pregnancy. This can be hard for some parents to swallow because no one wants to be blamed for causing harm on their child. Of course, autism is not the worst thing that could happen and many children with autism grow up and are able to be high functioning. On the other hand, there are many kids who struggle severely. It seems that autism diagnoses are on the rise and the numbers seem to climb each year.

Scientists are hard at work trying to figure out the underlying secret to this mystery. In the meantime, there have been studies that link certain things to autism, and those findings can help future parents maybe prevent their child from becoming autistic. Read below to find out 10 ways mom can cause her child to have autism and 5 ways she can prevent it. There is much more research that needs to be done on this topic, but we know some of the potential risk factors. Just to be on the safe side, it is best to take the following and maybe re-evaluate certain life style choices. We all want our kids to succeed in life and for them to have not have problems that can potentially hurt them socially and cognitively.

Continue scrolling to keep reading

Click the button below to start this article in quick view

Start Now

15 Increase: Running A Fever

No one enjoys being sick, and when pregnant it can be much worse than just feeling extra under the weather. Running a fever when expecting can cause autism in the soon-to-be bundle of joy. A woman is 40% more likely to have a baby that develops autism if she is in her second trimester. After week twelve of pregnancy the risk of having a child with autism increases. Researchers cannot tell exactly what about a fever causes this issue. A theory is that mama’s body’s reaction to the infection also influences fetal brain development. Sometimes no matter what we do, we cannot escape catching a sickness. The best bet to avoid this issue is to make sure to steer clear (the best you can) of those you know who are sick and make hand washing a really good habit.

14 Increase: The Body Isn't At A Healthy Number

Most women do not like discussing their weight, and while pregnant most women gain at least twelve pounds. Researchers claim that going into pregnancy at an unhealthy weight as well as gaining too much weight during pregnancy can both be linked to autism. In fact, for every five pounds of extra baby weight a mama gains she increases her kiddo’s chance of autism by one percent. This is a very easily avoidable issue. Before trying to conceive it is always a promising idea to meet with the doc to see if your body is healthy enough for pregnancy. Starting a good eating and exercise regimen can set yourself up for an excellent lifestyle during pregnancy. Losing as much weight as recommended before pregnancy is a sure-fire way to avoid your baby becoming autistic. While pregnant, gaining weight slowly and at the recommended amount is also a good idea.

13 Decrease: Keeping Pregnancies Spaced Out

Pregnancies spaced between two to five years apart have the lowest risk of developing autism. It is known that babies conceived after less than twelve months were actually 50% more likely to end up developing autism. When it comes to timing, your doc can help determine the best time for you to have additional children. This is an easy way to prevent autism in additional children, although a lot of people want their kiddos close in age. If waiting two years is not too much for mom to handle it could be beneficial for future pregnancies. It is unclear why waiting two or more years is better. The autism risk increases with both parents age at conception and a woman’s fertility declines as she gets older, so waiting too long could be an issue as well.

12 Increase: Starting Too Young

Getting pregnant at a young age can be a risk factor for an autistic child as well. Scientists believe that teen mom’s may not have access or the desire to get proper prenatal care and make the appropriate decisions when it comes to their pregnancy. Certain decisions can be detrimental and can increase the risk of ASD in unborn kiddos. Teen moms have an 18% higher chance of their baby being born with Autism while those mom’s in their 20’s have less of a risk. There are mom’s who have babies in their teen years who do not have kiddos with autism, but the risk is there. Some teenage pregnancies are an accident while others are planned. The best way to avoid this issue is to wait until your 20’s to conceive, but if that is not a possibility the best bet is to try to have the healthiest pregnancy possible.

11 Increase: Going The Natural Route

Some mamas live what they call a “natural” life style. Many people live a homeopathic lifestyle. Those who live this way have strong justification for their decisions, but some do not know that it can actually be pretty risky to the baby. There are many different brands and types of natural medications (a lot of which are not FDA approved) that can cause many issues for baby. There have been links to some natural medicines and autism for unborn babies. Women with too much of certain types of vitamins increase their risk of having a child diagnosed with autism. Some women take extra vitamins or try out certain supplements and herbs during pregnancy. Although it all sounds good because it is thought to be healthier than the more popular options, there are also risks.

10 Decrease: Stay Away From The Mommy Juice

There are several different environmental factors associated with autism. There is an association between cigarette smoking during pregnancy and autism. Even if you smoke heavily while pregnant, there's nothing saying that your baby will definitely be born with autism. There is a link between high functioning autism and cigarette smoking, although smoking is not proved to alone cause autism. There is also evidence that prenatal exposure to alcohol may be a factor in autism. Of course, not all autism is caused by alcohol, but some cases of autism are related to alcohol exposure. This is a topic that is still being considered. There are many reasons why mama should avoid cigarette smoking as well as alcohol consumption and if they are avoided there is a chance that the risk of having an autistic child can be dropped.

9 Increase: The Diet Stinks

Everyone has an opinion on what others eat. Prepackaged food is loaded with unnatural colors, arsenics and chemicals that are not really meant for consumption. There is a lot of chatter about how a child is fed and behavioral problems. There is talk that certain eating habits and chemicals can increase the risk for autism in kids. For pregnant women, the same risk is there. Prepackaged foods can put a woman’s unborn kiddo at a risk for autism. Of course, we all know the best foods to eat are natural foods and fresh fruits and vegetables. Going with organic is not a bad idea because they are not sprayed with the yucky chemicals that non-organic foods are. It can be hard to know what foods increase the risk of autism, so the best bet is to do thorough research and have the family eat as healthy as possible.

8 Increase: The Baby Comes Too Early

It is hard to know for sure what will happen in utero and that can be really scary. It is believed that women who have birth complications that result in extreme prematurity and/or low birth weight can be putting their baby at risk for autism. It is also believed that multiple pregnancies (twins, triplets, etc.) can be a risk factor for autism as well. There are certain risk factors that affect the maternal fetal environment that may place that fetus at increased risk of ASD. There are some things that are just out of our control, and unfortunately you can be the healthiest person and still have a baby with a low birth weight or be pregnant with twins (one or both of which having autism.)

7 Decrease: Beware Of Chemicals

Maternal exposure to certain chemicals during pregnancy seems to increase the risk for ASD. A way mama can eliminate the risk is to avoid certain chemicals. Limiting the intake of processed/prepackaged/ and canned foods, avoiding water bottles made of plastic or aluminum, and steering clear of personal care products that contain fragrance as an ingredient may be beneficial. Avoiding or limiting use of certain household cleaning products and weed killers absolutely cannot hurt as well. Of course, it is impossible to avoid every chemical. There needs to be much further research done on additional chemicals and the correlation to autism, but to be safe, avoiding as much as you can cannot hurt. Avoiding toxic chemicals can be very helpful in the mission to avoid autism.

6 Decrease: Don't Skip Out On Folic Acid

If mama is receiving prenatal care, she is most likely highly encouraged to take folic acid supplements. Some studies show that a reduced folic acid intake may be a risk for autism. It is recommended that a woman takes between 400 to 800 mcg’s of folic acid daily. It is recommended that mama’s start taking prenatal vitamins that include folic acid before and during trying to conceive to ensure that the moment you become pregnant your body is already being given folic acid. Too much folic acid can have an opposite effect. Folic acid can be found in leafy green veggies, citrus fruits, beans, rice and certain pastas. Researchers have found that women do not consume enough folic acid, and that is where the supplement comes in. Folic acid also helps prevent neural tube defects as well.

5 Increase: Overlooking Dangers In Your Own Home

For years we have heard about the potential risks of electromagnetic radiation. This comes from microwaves, cell phones and even baby monitors. Electromagnetic ways can cause damage to our bodies cells. When a woman is pregnant and uses a device with Electromagnetic radiation the fetus is affected by this which can increase the risk of autism. Electromagnetic radiation prohibits toxins from leaving the cells which is dangerous. Electromagnetic radiation trap heavy metals in cells, causing heavy metal toxicity. In this day in age, avoiding electromagnetic radiation can be tough. If mama really wants to avoid the risk of autism, she can do extensive research and avoid certain or most things can cause this due to this type of radiation. Or, mama can continue her lifestyle and hope for the best

4 Increase: Starting Too Old

Women have babies at all ages, and believe it or not age can make a difference in the outcome of baby. Women who become pregnant at age 35 or older can be bringing the risk of a variety of issues to their baby. The risk of baby developing autism due to parental age is a widely known issue. Women over age 40 have a 70% increase in the chance of having a kiddo with autism. The theory is that as mom ages her eggs change as well. This is a risk that mom and dad need to consider before trying to conceive. Some women do not care while others want nothing to do with the idea. Sometimes due to establishing a career and getting settled women do not have kids until later in life, but with that comes risks.

3 Decrease: Eat Only The Good

While pregnant, everything a mama puts into her body impacts the baby. Eating healthy can benefit baby on so many levels as well as prevent many issues. To decrease the chance of having a child with autism, mama can consume more linoleic acid (a type of omega-6 fatty acid) found in vegetable oils, seed and nuts which reduces the autism risk by 34%. Those who consume low levels of omega 3 fatty acids are more likely by 53% to give birth to an autistic child. Eating healthy is beneficial for baby and mom on so many levels. It can be easier to reach for a pop tart in the morning instead of an egg and spinach omelet, but the consequences just are not worth it. Eating healthier can reduce the risk of autism, remember- fueling the body with the good stuff during pregnancy can be a game changer. Maybe spinach is not your favorite, but throwing it into a smoothie with bananas and oranges could make it bearable!

2 Increase: Opening The Medicine Bottle

Another way to increase the risk of autism is by consuming certain medications while expecting. It is advised that momma stops taking any medications that can potentially harm the fetus. Of course in some cases the benefits of certain medications can outweigh the risk for mom and baby. There are medications that have suspected links to autism such as certain antidepressants and drugs used in labor. More studies on this topic need to be done, but staying clear of medications can help make sure baby stays clear of developing autism. Pregnant woman who have seizures during pregnancy may be given a medication called Valporic Acid which can be linked to autism as well. Misoprostol which is a medication used for gastric ulcers and Thalidomide used to treat morning sickness have also been known to cause autism in babies as well.

1 Increase: The Silent Trigger

This may come to a surprise for many, but thyroid conditions in pregnant mama’s can actually be a cause for autism in their children. Thyroid deficiencies in pregnancy during important windows of development in the brain have been proven to be a problem for the baby. Those with an under active thyroid are four times as likely to have a child with autism by the age of six. Later in pregnancy the fetus can produce her own thyroid hormone but still depends on mom’s. In early pregnancy that growing little peanut is dependent on mom’s thyroid hormone for her development. Deficiencies in mom’s supply can have grave consequences on babies developmental, cognitive and behavioral development for the child. Some mama’s have no idea that this issue that can occur way before pregnancy can impact their baby so much!

More in Incredible