Autism risk is higher in the siblings of autistic children than originally thought. In fact, if the older sibling is diagnosed with autism there is a 19 percent chance that the younger sibling might have autism too. This shows that autism has a genetic link as well as an environmental link, but how can you be aware on what’s going on and how to reduce your child’s risk of autism?
While there are still far more questions about autism risk than answers, there are some increased risks that have been studied. For instance, living near a highway during pregnancy has been linked to higher levels of autism in newborns. For most pregnant women, moving is not an option, but there are things you can do to create a healthier prenatal “toxic” free environment. If you do live by a freeway, make sure to change the air filters in heating and air conditioning units regularly to keep pollutants out. Additionally, try and limit your exposure to toxins in your own home. For example, if you live in an older home, have the paint tested for lead.
Also if you are on antidepressants there is a chance that you are increasing the risk for your child to have autism as well. One study found that mothers on antidepressants were twice as likely to have children with autism. That said, if you are an expectant mother, be sure to consult a doctor before quitting your antidepressants. Sudden withdrawal from antidepressants may not only exacerbate the symptoms, but also increase the chance of having depression return.
There are some possible ways to help reduce the risk of autism in your children. Prenatal vitamins have been shown to help reduce the risk of developing autism in a child, as well as taking healthy doses of folic acid during pregnancy. If autism runs in the family then you know you run a greater risk of your child developing autism. Consult your doctor frequently for constant medical support.