What Can Be Done to Prevent Autism Now? - Prior to conception

Author // Maureen H. McDonnell, R.N.

Article Index
What Can Be Done to Prevent Autism Now?
Prior to conception
During Pregnancy
During the newborn and infant stages
All Pages

Prior to conception:

  1. If you are considering becoming pregnant, one of the best things you can do is to spend six months to a year improving your diet and making better lifestyle choices. You should consume organically grown grains, vegetables, fruits, nuts and lean sources of protein. Laying the foundation for a healthy pregnancy by putting yourself in optimal shape prior to conceiving will do much to minimize the chance of miscarriage, or developing other complications of pregnancy and delivery.

  2. Many intended mothers reduce or eliminate the “white foods” (sugar, white bread, pasta, pizza and bagels), along with chemical preservatives and other processed foods, before conceiving. But because gastrointestinal problems are so common in children with autism, some women I’ve been working with are choosing to address their own GI related conditions prior to conceiving. Women with a history of candida (yeast) overgrowth, for instance—or digestive problems, gluten intolerance, food allergies, bloating, constipation or parasites—are treating these conditions before becoming pregnant. Reducing sugar consumption, minimizing the use of antibiotics, taking probiotics and using specific diets and herbs for intestinal pathogens can all be helpful in optimizing your health. These steps increase the likelihood that your child won’t be prone to GI problems.

  3. Reduce or eliminate your alcohol and caffeine intake, and eliminate tobacco.

  4. Begin (or continue) an exercise routine.

  5. Prior to conceiving, switch to using green cleaning and personal care products (e.g., shampoo, toothpaste, body lotion and facial cream). A 2006 report from the CDC found that Americans, on average, tested positively for 116 of 148 synthetic compounds, including dioxin, polycyclic hydrocarbons and organochlorine pesticides. These same substances were also found in human milk, placental tissue, umbilical cord blood, and the blood and body fat of newborns. The average American home contains 3 to 10 gallons of hazardous materials, and 85 percent of the chemicals that are registered have never been tested for their impact on the human body. (For more information on this, see the Green This! series of books by Deirdre Imus.)

  6. If your toxic load has been high (for example, if you’ve taken many prescription or over-the-counter drugs, or you work or live in a chemical-laden environment), you might want to consider a detoxification or cleansing program, such as those found at

  7. If a detox program alone does not relieve fatigue, migraines or other symptoms associated with being toxic, you might want to consult a chiropractor or medical doctor familiar with nutritional and chelation protocols for a more advanced detoxification process. Contact a local M.D., N.D., D.C. or D.O. affiliated with the American Academy of Advancement in Medicine. (For a list of physicians in your area, visit

  8. If you have several mercury-based amalgam dental fillings, consider having them removed by a dentist familiar with safe procedure for the removal of dental mercury. A dentist associated with the American Holistic Dental Association ( can safely remove mercury-based amalgam fillings at least 6 months before you becoming pregnant. Do not have them removed while breastfeeding.

  9. Begin taking a comprehensive multivitamin mineral supplement. One of the most comprehensive and easily absorbed prenatal supplements is OptiNatal. Start by taking one, and work up to taking six per day.

  10. Adding a source of animal-based omega-3s is also essential for optimal health. Krill oil is a popular option, as are mercury-free sources of fish oil, such as supplements like Nordic Natural or OmegaBrite.

  11. Find a “green” dry cleaner. The chemical used in most drycleaning facilities, perchlorethylene, is a known carcinogen.

  12. Drink filtered water. For more information about water filters, call NSF International at 800-673-8010, or see their website at Also, visit the Natural Resources Defense Council’s website at gfilters.asp.

  13. Use a stainless-steel water bottle to carry and consume filtered water. Whether they’re heated or not, soft plastic bottles will release phthalates. Antimony can also be released from polyethylene terephthalate.

  14. Limit your mercury intake by minimizing the consumption of large fish. For mercury levels of fish, visit

  15. To build beneficial microflora, consume more fermented foods and take high quality probiotics. In addition to improving levels of beneficial intestinal flora, these have been shown to decrease intestinal absorption of certain chemicals by facilitating their excretion. See

  16. Improve indoor air quality in your home or office by opening the windows and creating cross ventilation.

  17. Test your vitamin D levels, and add additional vitamin D3 if necessary. Many studies support higher levels of Vitamin D than what was previously recommended. This boosts your immune system, cardio and neurological function.

  18. Eat a diet rich in colorful, organically grown vegetables. This will provide an adequate intake of antioxidants to fight off the damaging effects of free radicals. Juicing organic vegetables is a great alternative if you find it daunting to consume the daily recommended 41/2 cups of veggies and fruit.

  19. If anticipating pregnancy, I would also suggest you avoid the flu shot and any other vaccine for a year prior to conception.

  20. Minimize your exposure to electromagnetic fields (EMFs). Computers, TVs and cell phones emit electromagnetic radiation, so do not sleep with these in your bedroom. Use cell phones only when necessary, and keep your phone in your pocketbook, rather than in your pocket.

  21. Do what is reasonable to green your home and minimize exposure to EMFs and toxins in your food, water and cleaning products. If you’re planning to remodel your house, or are building a new home, try to select no-VOC paints and sustainable wood instead of composites or resin-based products. Minimize your exposure to building materials, and allow outgasing of new materials.

  22. Begin regular chiropractic care with a family wellness practitioner. The specific adjustments will begin optimizing your nerve and immune system function and balancing your pelvic muscles and ligaments.