I was contacted this week by a mother who had just been told that her son was autistic. After sharing her recent journey she paused and in that silence I asked her, “Tell me sweetheart how did that make you feel when you heard those words?”
In a flood of tears she said , “I wanted to scream at them and say, ‘You don’t even know my boy but you want to give him a label for his entire life!!”
She continued,”Now I have no idea what to do next!”
Whenever any of us are faced with a health crisis be that large or small, it is vitally important that we take time to sit with whatever emotions are stirring and then allow ourselves to remember that we get to decide as to whether we play an active or passive role in how we move forward. Should we decide that we do indeed want to explore all of our options, deciding that we want to roll up our sleeves and get busy building our health literacy on the topics at hand, may we remember that there are many other families, health practitioners and support networks willing to offer knowledge and guidance.
Here is some interesting information regarding Autism…
Autism is part of a spectrum of neurodevelopmental disorders characterised by repetitive behaviours and impaired language and social interaction, that has dramatically surged in prevalence in recent decades(1). Matson and Koslowski (2) note that early estimates of autism cases were less than 10 in10,000 individuals whereas current estimates are as high as110 per 10,000 individuals. Lleneza et al (3) state that approximately 1 in every 150 children in the U.S. is now affected, creating a higher prevalence than childhood cancer, diabetes, and AIDS combined.
In 2002 (1) the annual monetary cost of autism was $26 billion in America alone. In Sweden it was shown that the financial cost of schooling and community support per child was more than $50,000 per year, not counting approximately 1000 hours per year spent by parents supporting and caring for their autistic child (4).
Many genetic and environmental factors have been identified and investigated as potentially triggering the disorder. Two pioneers in Autism management, Sidney M. Baker and Richard A Kunin, identify toxic environmental changes that have occured in developed societies between 1950 and 2000 that may be associated with the Autism upsurge. These have included increased antibiotic use; mercury exposure by injection in infancy; increased combined live viral vaccines and numbers of vaccinations; increased soil depletion leading to vitamin/mineral deficits; decreased omega 3 fatty acids in the diet; and greater exposure to xenobiotic toxins (chemicals capable of mimicking the body’s natural biochemicals) (1).
Whilst no individual factor has been definitively shown to cause Autism, pollutants in our modern environment such as pestacides, heavy metals, herbacides and fumigants have been linked to abnormalities in behaviour, perception, cognition, and motor ability during early childhood, even at just “background” levels (1).
A 2004 review (5) proposed that excess oxytocin, a drug frequently used to induce and augment labor, could contribute to the development of Autistic Spectrum Disorders. The author stated that two barriers are commonly thought to prevent oxytocin from reaching the infant’s brain during labor: The maternal placenta barrier and the blood brain barrier of the infant, but that birthing factors may make it possible for oxytocin to permeate the infant´s blood brain barrier, desensitise oxytocin receptors and lead to changes in neurology and behaviour.
Prenatal exposure to stressful events has also been associated with increased risk of Autism (4). A retrospective study demonstrated that mothers of Autistic children reported significantly more family discord during the pregnancies of their Autistic children, as did the 188 mothers of Autistic children in another study who reported significantly more stressful life events such as job loss or death of husband during their pregnancies than 202 mothers of normally developing children. Several other studies described by Kinney et al (4) have demonstrated that prenatal exposure to natural disasters significantly increased the risk for a variety of behavioral disorders in infants.
Mercury, Lead & Zinc
A 2006 study (6) looked at baby teeth as a measure of cumulative exposure to toxic metals during fetal development and early infancy, specifically comparing the level of mercury, lead, and zinc in baby teeth of children with Autism Spectrum Disorder and typically developing children. It was found that children with Autism had significantly (2.1-fold) higher levels of mercury but similar levels of lead and similar levels of zinc. These same children also had a significantly higher usage of oral antibiotics during their first 12 moths of life. The authors described how antibiotic use is known to completely prevent the excretion of mercury in rats due to changes in normal gut flora. They hypothesised that the high use of antibiotics in autistic children may in turn reduce their ability to excrete mercury. Further noted were the high numbers of gastrointestinal issues in Autistic children potentially explained by the normal gut flora changes caused by frequent antibiotic use.
Antibiotics & Gut Problems
A study by Fallon (7) similarly demonstrates the prevalent use of antibiotics in Autistic children and makes note of the association between antibiotic clavulanate/amoxicillin´s introduction in the 1980s and the dramatic rise in autism cases. In her study, an exceptionally high number of ear infection episodes were found, with each child having received a mean number of 12.04 courses of antibiotics -a sum total of 2480 courses of antibiotics given to the 206 children in the study. Fallon proposed that the potentially high levels of urea/ammonia yielded by clavulanate in children warrants further investigation as a potential Autism cause. Fallon also questions whether Autism is a brain disorder or a gut disorder (8), given the high number of Autistic children with gut problems. Augmentin, an antibiotic known to cause gut irritation, may contribute to damage of the small intestine and pancreas resulting in allergens and pathogens passing through the gut lining and inadequate digestion foods. Fallon suggests that improper digestion of fats and proteins may consequently harm the rapidly growing brain of children, potentially contributing to the likely multi-factorial nature of Autism.
Mounting Evidence & Getting Support
A vast number of factors have been identified as potentially contributing to Autism. Whilst a definitive cause remains obscure, there is mounting evidence to show that everyday environmental toxins can have dangerous neurological and behavioural effects on humans and particularly children. In light of this research it makes sense to do all that we can to minimise exposure to harmful chemicals, medications, and stressful environments in order to optimise the health potential of our children. For parents whose children have been diagnosed as autistic, organisations such as MINND, Defeat Autism Now! (DAN!) and Autism360.org, may offer some support.
As a chiropractor, experience has taught me that having families work with these organisations and also work with a team of holistic health practitioners learning how to rebuild the gut strength of a child challenged with autism, how to progressively detoxify, and have adjustments to free-up their nervous system certainly creates more significant health outcomes then remaining idle.
For more information about reducing problematic environmental factors,
see “Holistic Parenting“, “Nasties to Avoid…” and “Well Adjusted Babies“.
Read more —> http://welladjustedbabies.com/autism-and-environmental-factors/#ixzz1RtcX4Jhz
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