Up Your Folic Acid Intake
Talk to your doctor about taking folic acid supplements. Some studies show that reduced folic acid intake, whether through diet or because of lack of supplementation, may be a risk factor for autism, says Dr. Fallin. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends pregnant women take between 400 to 800 mcg of folic acid daily.
Take Care of Your Health
Researchers know that maternal health during pregnancy has an impact on the unborn child, and ASD is certainly no exception to this rule. “For instance, women who are severely ill and require hospitalization during pregnancy may be more likely to have children who develop autism,” says Dr. Wang. Specifically, studies have shown associations between maternal infections during pregnancy and subsequent risk for their children developing an autism spectrum disorder.
In general, women should do what they can to remain healthy during pregnancy. “This includes optimizing nutrition, taking prenatal vitamins as recommended by their obstetrician, avoiding exposure to unnecessary drugs and medications, and ensuring that their own vaccinations are up to date,” says Dr. Wang. Also, a recent study in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that gestational diabetes developed by 26 weeks is linked with an increased risk to ASD. Ask your doctor about the right plan for you and then stick with it.