Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Autism: The Environmental Connection

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently revised the numbers on the prevelance of autism to 1 in 110 children. This represents a significant jump in autism spectrum disorder diagnoses in the four years that passed between the 2002 study results and the 2006 study results.

On January 16, 2010, the journal Current Opinion in Pediatrics explored the potential cause of autism. It was stated, “The developing human brain is understood today to be exquisitely susceptible to injury caused by toxic chemicals in the environment. The vulnerability is greatest during embryonic and fetal life, and may be especially great in the first trimester of pregnancy.” They continued: “Given current understanding of the great vulnerability of the developing brain to toxic chemicals, likelihood is high that many of the [documented chemicals] have potential to cause injury to the developing brain and to produce neurodevelopmental disorders,” including autism.

There is both clinical and epidemiological evidence that autism is linked to environmental exposure of toxins. Did you know that in 2002 FDA Pesticide Program Residue Monitoring said that in the U.S. Pesticide use equals 4 billion pounds annually? That is 8 pounds for every man, woman and child in the United States. It is important that we minimize our exposure and help our body eliminate toxic substances from the body. This is important not only for childen who currently suffer with autism, but also for women of child bearing age hoping to become pregnant or who already are pregnant in order to help prevent autism in their offspring.

This is accompished first of all by simply eating better in the form of consuming mor fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lean meat. But even doing this can be problematic, as most commercially available produce is tainted with toxic pesticides. It is interesting to note that even the food we think is healthy can contain toxins due to the pesticide usage. It was stated by the Journal of Pediatrics in June 2010, “the organophosphate pesticide malathion is found in 28% of frozen blueberries, 25% of strawberries, and 19% of celery.” This is one reason why organic produce is a better option.

Beyond that, utilizing supplemental nutrients and herbs to help support the body's detoxification pathways is likewise vitally important. To learn more about nutrient-tailored detoxification, see my posts on detoxification. You can access those in the side bar of the blog.