Unless your child enters the doctor’s office with an obvious gaping wound, a few initial questions are necessary to arrive at a correct diagnosis. However in our “speed-dating” arena of health care, often the physician does not take the time to interview the patient , e.g., “Did you do/visit anything this week?” or “Run down your recent diet” , all of which makes a family member’s investigative role critical, as the events below demonstrate.
Katelyn was your average active NJ high school freshman. A good student, played soccer, and sings in the chorus. The past 4 weeks however, she sleeps constantly and barely makes it off the bus home to crash on the couch. Her mother returns home from work to wake her for homework and dinner before she collapses for the night. At first it seemed like the flu, then off to the doctor for blood tests. Mono was ruled out, and the physician could not find any other ailment, or condition except low iron, and said he suspected malnourishment.
Low iron does not indicate malnourishment, and her levels were not low enough to be anemic, so quite a leap. Secondly, she was full of energy a few short weeks ago. A few questions on her diet revealed that she eats a tuna fish sandwich almost every day for lunch. Her mother mentioned this with some pride since her daughter hates peanut butter, and felt she had made a great choice for a protein filled lunch. I immediately referred her Mom to the numerous articles and studies about mercury poisoning and suggested she request a test for mercury levels, and if that’s inconclusive, gluten intolerance.
If we considered health care as we consider other services and products, then this physician failed to perform the service he was contracted to do. Personally, I’d demand reimbursement of my co-pay although actually we all pay for such lapses in rudimentary patient interview and fact collecting. Any nationalized health care system will only further erode the time physicians afford their patients until it resembles the speed of a NASCAR pit stop.
A small article in yesterday’s WSJ, on how the FDA has prodded manufacturers to remove zinc from denture cream caught my attention: WSJ.com – Zinc in Denture Creams Poses Risk http://on.wsj.com/fgxZbs.
Studies show that repeated or prolonged exposure to zinc used as a bonding agent, can increase zinc toxicity. I don’t wear dentures and would have just told my mom to use zinc-free denture cream, but the text “high doses of zinc can cause copper deficiencies, which studies have shown can cause nerve damage/neurological disorders” reminded me of a study in the UK to determine a link between vitamin and mineral deficiencies and Autism and similar cognitive disorders. This study was also the subject of one of my previous blogs on Autism.
Recalling how my obstetrician prescribed prenatal vitamins, I researched the list of RDA vitamins and minerals by the American Academy of Pediatrics and American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologist and found the following statement ; “Zinc is involved in nucleic acid and protein metabolism; therefore, zinc is important in early gestation. The RDA for pregnant women is 11 mg, which increases to 12 mg during lactation. Well-balanced diets provide the RDA for women who are pregnant and lactating, and supplementation is not recommended. Both iron and copper compete with zinc at absorption sites; therefore, zinc supplementation is recommended when elemental iron supplementation exceeds 60 mg/d. Likewise, whenever zinc supplements are used, copper should also be supplemented.” I am a very healthy eater, yet no information on my diet was collected or evaluated. How did my prescribed vitamin account for such absorption inequality? and did I tip the scales further with my healthy diet? While my youngest is 14, prescribing prenatal vitamins was SOP for obstetricians and according to my recent inquiries, it still is so these questions are still pertinent for expectant mothers.
I have not found any studies in the US that track zinc and copper levels of mothers, perhaps fathers, of autistic children but this seems to be a credible cause and at the very least deserves some attention. Autism organizations should direct the same mobilization they employed to focus attention on vaccines, to find answers on a more established theory of cause.