by Traci Knight
Discussing autism can often lead to polarizing opinions with many experts taking the view that more comprehensive diagnosis is the reason for the 120% spike since 2002 and a 30% increase in just the last 2 years. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention went on record on March 28, 2014, stating that 1 in 68 children have been diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). This spectrum spans a variety of related disorders, most notably Asperger’s Syndrome. Even with increased awareness, the dramatic uptick of ASD is startling, revealing a trend that has parents and medical professionals questioning the root cause of autism. New research implicates a combination of genetic factors and environmental toxins, whose interplay wreaks havoc on neurological development. Toxic overload theory attempts to explain this modern day disorder and hopefully provide a platform for prevention.
What has changed?
Autism 20 years ago represented 1 in 1000 births. Over the last two decades humans have been subjected to many more environmental toxins than ever before. Chemicals that never existed in nature such as PBDE’s (flame retardants), PCB’s (coolants), dioxins (manufacturing byproducts), and pesticides are part of our daily exposure. Heavy metals are used as industrial fertilizers that blanket our food. Over 300 varying synthetic chemicals can be found in the average human body, providing a roadmap of harmful exposure throughout the lifetime. Toxicity passes from mother to child through the placenta before childbirth, setting the stage for weakened immune systems in infants.
Diet is identified as a contributor to autistic development. Recent studies have shown a correlation between vitamin D deficiencies and autism. Blood and brain glutamate levels in autistic patients is elevated to levels that can cause developmental neurodegeneration. This is caused by excitotoxins such as aspartate and monosodium glutamate. Excessive amounts of heavy metals such as mercury, aluminum, and fluoride, are found in virtually every autistic person. Heavy metals are prevalent in the food supply. Seafood contains mercury, there is aluminum in baked goods, and fluoride in municipal water supplies. There are cases of adults developing autistic symptoms after exposure to heavy metals and ensuing encephalitis. The role of vaccines in the autism debate point to vaccines as a factor rather than the sole cause of the degenerative illness.
Physical defenses and the chance of ASD
According to medical researcher and historian Harris Coulter, Ph.D. “In examining the enormous literature on infectious encephalitis, I realized very quickly that the long-term effects of encephalitis is totally congruent with what we see today in the DSM3 of the American Psychological Association as “Disorders usually evident in infancy or childhood” (developmental disabilities). That includes autism, hyperactivity, dyslexia, attention span difficulties and several dozen other conditions.” Encephalitis is typically an autoimmune response to a live virus, such as those delivered during vaccination.
Neuroinflammation has also been linked to autism. This seems to be an initial response of the developing cerebral cortex to external stimulus. Inflammation signals the brain to increase pain and negative response in humans. Children’s brains are responding to toxins in a way that never occurred in the past.
The prevalence of autism in boys (1 in 42 male children develop some form of ASD) is part of the genetic component. It is theorized that the extra chromosome of female children offers some protection against the toxic load. Estrogen levels may also play a role in protecting girls from autism.
Continued research is showing that autistic children have harmful colonies of bacteria in the gut. Imbalances in microflora can cause inflammation in the intestines and gut that is theorized to cause brain inflammation. There are many other complicated links between the way the brain processes information that can be controlled by the GI tract, specifically glutamate and neurotransmitter metabolites. Those with autism seem to have less ability to excrete environmental toxins. Macrobiotic, gluten free, and dairy free diets have made marked improvements in the prognosis of many sufferers of autism. Unfortunately, once the neurological damage has occurred, it can only be mitigated.
Although autism is on the rise globally, the United States has the highest prevalence of cases. Chemicals in the environment and degradation of the food supply have increased dramatically in the time frame that autism has skyrocketed. Toxic components are combining with genetically vulnerable populations to cause an autism rate that is continuing to spiral out of control.
Individuals need to be aware of the choices they make to support industries and products that knowingly create harmful agents. A better choice is to buy organic food and natural cleaning products as well as supporting green energy such as solar.
There has to be a drastic reduction in the amount of toxins we are exposed to, if we want to protect the genetic health of our population and reduce cases of autism. It is advisable for couples planning childbirth to take special care in reducing prenatal exposure to known toxins. Special consideration should be taken with infants and children to reduce exposure to harmful chemicals and processed foods.
As more and more studies link autism to the environment, we begin to question why it is so high in the U.S. We are a country known for extreme industrial agriculture, a comprehensive vaccine schedule, and a prevalence of pharmaceutical treatments. It is time for governments and individuals to analyze our toxic load closely. We must make the changes necessary to reduce unnatural elements in our environment that are contributing to an epidemic of autism.