Autism Risk Significantly Reduced with Preconception Nutrition

by Sarah Healthy Pregnancy, Baby & ChildComments: 21

Can preconception nutritional status affect a woman’s risk of bearing an autistic child?

A study recently published in The Journal of Epidemiology suggests that yes – a woman’s nutritional status before pregnancy may indeed play a significant role in whether or not her child ultimately develops autism.

The study involved 707 children ages 24-60 months old who had developed normally or who had been diagnosed with autism or autism spectrum disorder.

Researchers examined the supplementation habits of mothers enrolled in the study to determine whether vitamins and/or other supplements were consumed during the 3 months prior to pregnancy and throughout pregnancy and breastfeeding.

Statistical analysis of the results determined that mothers with children who had developed normally were much more likely to have consumed prenatal vitamins during the periconceptional period, defined as the 3 months prior to pregnancy through the first month of pregnancy.

The association between taking prenatal vitamins during the periconceptional period and normal child development was even stronger for children with a genetic susceptibility for autism.

Periconceptional Nutrition Vital to Your Child’s Health

This study provides scientific validation of the practice of Traditional Societies, where both parents-to-be consumed special, nutrient dense foods prior to conception in order to ensure the health and optimal physical development of their children.  This period of nutrient dense feeding typically started 6 months to a year before conception and lasted throughout pregnancy and nursing.

While this study bolsters the idea that women need to consciously take action to ensure adequate nutritional status prior to conception, prenatal vitamins are not the best choice as most contain synthetic vitamins as well as fillers and other undesirable ingredients.

A factory produced pill can clearly never match the nutrition and absorption of those special whole, nutrient dense foods that Traditional Cultures emphasized for healthy babies!

What is the Optimal Periconceptional Diet?

The optimal diet prior to conception (ideally consumed by both parents) as well as during pregnancy and breastfeeding consists of the following guidelines as specified by the Weston A. Price Foundation (Healthy 4 Life Booklet) and are based on the food choices of 14 healthy and isolated populations consuming their native diets:

  • Cod Liver Oil – to supply 20,000 IU of Vitamin A and 2,000 IU Vitamin D per day {where to find}
  • Whole Raw Milk or Cheese – one quart whole raw milk or 4-5 ounces of cheese daily.
  • Butter, Lard, and Coconut Oil – About 6 TBL daily {where to find}
  • Eggs and Egg Yolks – 2 large eggs each day with extra egg yolks helpful.
  • Fresh Seafood – several times per week {where to find}
  • Fresh Meat – meat should be eaten daily with the fat or skin.  Lean meats are not desirable.
  • Bone Broths – consumed alone or with soups or sauces.
  • Properly Prepared Whole Grains – sprouted, soaked and/or sour leavened {where to find}
  • LactoFermented Condiments – probiotic loaded foods like sauerkraut each day {where to find}
  • Fruits and Vegetables – Fresh and organic is best.

Of course, optimal pre-pregnancy nutritional status involves not only eating the foods that are healthy for your baby but also avoiding those that are damaging.

Damaging foods during the periconceptional period, pregnancy and nursing include trans fats, vegetable oils, refined and artificial sweeteners, processed fried foods, junk foods, soy, white flour, soft drinks, and of course, caffeine, alcohol, cigarettes, and drugs – even those medically prescribed.

 

Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist

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