Preventing Autism and Other Developmental Delays
by Patricia S. Lemer, M.Ed., NCC
DDRʼs mission statement has two parts:
- Assisting those with developmental delays, including autism, and
- Preventing additional children from becoming affected.
So far, our focus has been on assisting families, with minimal attention to prevention. It is now time to educate prospective and new parents about the roles of hormones, stress, environmental toxins, vaccines, nutrition and reﬂexes in developmental delays. Healthy babies are our goal. At the Defeat Autism Now (DAN!) Conference in April, Drs. Stuart Freedenfeld and Nancy OʼHara spoke on this subject. I thank them for their medical contributions.
Before Conception: Miscarriages occur when too many components are not "just right." To increase fertility, assure the viability of a fetus and the health of a baby:
- Screen thyroid function – Low levels of T4 or marginally elevated levels of thyroid- stimulating hormone (TSH) can affect the unborn baby. Environmental toxins are endocrine disrupters. Insufﬁcient levels, or even a mild drop of thyroid hormone in the mother, at critical stages of brain development, can affect a babyʼs cognitive function. Order the BioSafe home saliva test online, or test through your doctor. Once you know your levels, take natural measures to normalize thyroid function.
- Remove any mercury-containing amalgams – Even one or two "silver" ﬁllings off-gas into the mouth with brushing, chewing and drinking hot liquids. Motherʼs mercury load crosses the placenta, landing in the liver and kidneys of the fetus. Infantsʼ levels correlate with the number of amalgams in the mother. Later, mercury may show up in the breast milk, which could provide better absorption of mercury in the nursing infant. Be certain to have amalgams removed safely by a biological dentist.
- Eat organic foods and take supplements – Contraceptives and medications deplete minerals. Even with healthy food choices, eating adequate amounts of required pre-natal nutrients is simply impossible. Calcium, essential fats, iron, folate and B vitamins are vital now and for growing babies. Work with a health care professional to determine the right amounts for you.
- Detoxify the body – Mothers dump a good part of their body burden into their unborn babies. Consider a homeopathic detox program that clears out chemicals, metals, parasites, bacteria, viruses and radiation. (Contact Mary Coyle: or 917-133-8473.) The lower your toxic load, the lower the babyʼs.
- Check for retained reﬂexes – The Spinal Gallant and asymmetric tonic neck reﬂex (ATNR) assist the baby in maneuvering through the birth canal. Mothers who retain either of both of these reﬂexes may have difﬁculty giving birth naturally. The baby may not "drop," be breech, or require a Cesarean section. Simple reﬂex integration activities for a month prior to birth can help the birth be smoother.
While Pregnant: Carrying a healthy baby requires:
- Eating healthy food – Remember youʼre eating for two. Make nutrient rich, not high caloric choices. Say "yes" to 75-100 grams of protein, organic fruits, vegetables, beans, lentils, asparagus, spinach, nuts and free-range, antibiotic-free animals. Say "no" to sugar and its substitutes, wheat, dairy and hydrogenated fats. Say "once-in-a-while" to small, cold water ﬁsh and soy products. Take the time to sit down and eat slowly, chewing well.
- Watching what you drink – At least eight cups of good quality water. No alcohol, sodas (especially diet), caffeinated tea or coffee.
- Deep relaxation & sleep – Learn meditation. Take a yoga class for expectant mothers. Practice daily, breathing deeply. Oxygenation of cells enhances their function. Releasing stress allows the body to put its energy into growing a healthy baby. Turn in before 10:00 p.m. and sleep at least nine hours.
- Exercise – Stretch to increase ﬂexibility. Walk or attend a class two or three times a week.
- Avoiding toxic exposures – Now is not the time to paint the babyʼs room, install new carpet or spray for termites. Spruce up the house only with "green" products. Do you work with hazards such as chemicals, pesticides, textiles, beauty products or radiation? No vaccines with thimerosal, including the ﬂu shot. Watch those cosmetics!
DDR is launching an educational program entitled "Having Healthy Babies" in January. Initially, we will offer a one-day workshop in Pittsburgh and New York City. Our goal is to hold it in other locations throughout the year. Eventually, we will sponsor a six-part series with a lecture devoted to each step from before conception through the second year of life.
In Pittsburgh, I will co-present with Dr. Franne Berez, a homeopathic physician and family practitioner. The New York program is with Dr. Lawrence Palevsky, President of both the American Holistic Medical Association and the Holistic Pediatric Association.[Initially published in New Developments: Volume 11, Number 1 - Fall, 2005]