I have been fairly critical of recent studies regarding rising Autism rates and today another explanation rankled me. In haste to find a more credible reason now that vaccines were debunked, the medical community is looking toward toxins and chemicals in the environment, which sounded plausible until I read what the basis was:
According to a recent study published in Environmental Health Perspectives, “Researchers measured the levels of suspect chemicals called phthalates in the urine of pregnant women. Among women with higher levels of certain phthalates (those commonly found in fragrances, shampoos, cosmetics and nail polishes), their children years later were more likely to display disruptive behavior.” I must have missed some major news where ‘disruptive behavior’ became an accepted definition of Autism. It is equally as likely that these women, still manicuring and coiffing themselves post-pregnancy, completely ignored their children! and baring osmosis, I fail to see how phthalates wind up in one’s urine when used externally.
Being involved in special education I see some interesting trends. Incidence of diagnosis runs in families but I often wonder if the evaluator would still render a diagnosis of autism if conducted without knowledge of another family member’s diagnosis. Still, assuming prevalence in families, are there traits common among those diagnosed, or their parents? Is it possible that during pregnancy the mother/fetus is lacking certain nutrients? This would account for multiple incidence in families since there is little evidence to assert a genetic link.
Dr. Ellen Grant studied this correlation, British Medical Journal, Oct 14, 2004: “Mineral and vitamin and essential fatty acid deficiencies are real causes of impaired brain function, especially zinc and copper imbalance. The damaging effect of dental amalgam fillings in early pregnancy is potentially a real cause of severe irreversible brain damage to children. This dental practise is now being discontinued hopefully. The commonest toxic metal in autistic children causing DNA-adducts in a screening study of 61 autistic children was cadmium, presumably from parental smoking.”
In an earlier related study, reported in the same publication, August 29, 2004, Dr. Grant poses the following questions: ‘”What happened to cause such large increases in childhood illnesses? Similar increases seem to have occurred in dyslexia, hyperactivity and autism. Why has the sex ratio of childhood allergies changed from being twice as common in boys to equal prevalence in girls?”
Conclusion: “A single cohesive explanation may be the increasing use by younger women of hormonal contraceptives, and also smoking and alcohol before conception. Hormone use lowers zinc and magnesium levels and causes copper imbalances. It is important to correct these abnormalities before conception to prevent unexplained infertility or recurrent miscarriages, or health problems in future children.2,3 Low maternal zinc levels during early pregnancy can impair homeostatic mechanism and stress-coping mechanisms throughout future growth and development in animals. It is likely that the increases in allergic illnesses in children could be stemmed if hormonal contraception, smoking and alcohol use were avoided by young women before conception. Monitored nutritional supplementation for parents before conception, mothers during pregnancy and children when growing is very useful.”
Dr. Grant makes a compelling argument that increased usage of oral contraceptives is concurrent with increased allergy and autism incidence. More troubling however, is that on this side of the Atlantic, there is an absence of studies on the affects of contraceptives on the fetus. Perhaps it would put a damper on our sexual freedom to suggest that birth control usage can unleash harmful affects on your yet-to-be-conceived child even before you meet Mr. Maybe. So, your mother was right; don’t smoke, don’t drink, [cussing is OK] and the best protection is abstinence.