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Season 3, Episode 4: Proactive Prenatal and Neurodevelopment Care with Dr. Ari Calhoun

Show Notes

Dr. Ari Calhoun is a perinatal and pediatric naturopathic doctor and mother of two.  She is the owner and director of Wholesome Brain Medicine, focusing on optimizing neurodevelopment and emotional regulation from the womb onward. As an adjunct faculty of the Medical Academy of Pediatrics, she is a passionate speaker and advocate on the importance of a biomedical approach toward neurodevelopmental disorders. She is licensed by the California Board of Naturopathic Medicine, holds a Doctorate in Naturopathic Medicine from Bastyr University in San Diego, California, and graduated Summa Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Science in Exercise Science and a Minor in Clinical Nutrition Sciences from Syracuse University in Syracuse, New York.

Together Dr. Ari and I dive into the many ways that practitioners can take a proactive stance on prenatal and neurodevelopmental care to support the high-risk profiles of their patients. She shares tactics for mitigating risk and supporting proactive prenatal and neurodevelopmental care through nutrients. She highlights research behind anti-brain antibodies in pregnant moms, details folate receptor antibodies, offers lab recommendations, and explores the need for dairy in most diets. Ari also covers the risks associated with maternal infections, the supplements and lab tests that she recommends for her patients, and the danger of a zinc-copper imbalance. Ari has a wealth of information on these lesser-known topics, and our conversation is filled with a variety of clinical pearls that practitioners can use to help support parents as they navigate prenatal and postpartum care as well as for children with autism.

I’m your host, Evelyne Lambrecht, thank you for designing a well world with us.

Episode Resources:

Dr. Ari Calhoun

Designs for Health

Nutrition Blog: Choline – A Critical Nutrient During Pregnancy

Research Blog: Do Higher Prenatal Choline Levels Mitigate Fetal Impact of Respiratory Infections

Research Blog: Autism and Cerebral Folate Deficiency

Research Blog: Functional roles of Zinc

Science Update: Recent Study Explores Impact of Folate Supplementation During Pregnancy on Newborn’s DNA Methylation and Neural Outcomes

Science Update: New Study Investigates the Effect of Vitamin D Status during Pregnancy on Infant Neurodevelopment

Visit the Designs for Health Research and Education Library which houses medical journals, protocols, webinars, and our blog.


00:00 Intro

02:05 Ari recalls the experiences that fueled her passion for brain health, fertility, and working with children.

04:45 Holistically optimizing neurodevelopment starts with a focused approach to maternal prenatal health.

08:04 The impact of maternal immune activation and inflammation on neurodevelopment.

13:02 Common maternal infections that tend to trigger immune activation, include stress and metabolic conditions.

16:41 Ari highlights safe prenatal nutrients that have been sufficiently studied and optimize prenatal care.

21:39 Details and dosing for zinc, copper, folate, Vitamin C, and other beneficial supplements.

27:00 Research regarding the safety and concerns of melatonin use in pregnancy.

28:49 Ari weighs in on glutathione controversy and Tylenol usage in pregnancy.

32:07 The phenomenon of anti-brain antibodies and their association to severe forms of autism, and key risk factors for mom and baby.

36:51 Determining the appropriate timing for anti-brain antibody testing to proactively support high-risk patient profiles.

38:48 Specialized lab testing recommendations for preconception care based on mom’s immune concerns and history of miscarriage.

42:00 Addressing concerns before conception based on the patient’s ideal timeline.

44:05 Ari shares the teaching and personal experiences that have shaped her compassion and desire to help parents find answers and solve the pieces of their child’s puzzle.

46:18 Pro-resolving mediators can be used in high doses for infection and injury in pregnancy as well as for children with autism.

47:52 The danger of low zinc-to-copper ratios and the mechanisms behind the imbalanced levels.

54:32 Supplementing with zinc and other supplements can be the easy solution to most copper imbalance-related issues.

55:20 Ari highlights the training and experience that she has gained in these little-researched topics.

58:10 Ari shares her top three supplements, her evolving health practices around diet, sleep, and exercise, and the dairy-free idea that she has changed her mind about.

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