Environmental Factors and Autism – Part 2

coal-power-plant-and-autism

From the time of conception, babies are de-methylated and as they grow and develop, they go through a process called methylation.  Both methylation and detoxification form an important balance that supports growth and development.  They work hand-in-hand so that as one slows down, so does that other.  Children with autism have shown to have impairments in these cycles, which may begin to explain why children with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) are quite susceptible to environmental toxicity.

A 2009 study completed by researchers at the University of Texas, found startling evidence that the environment plays a large role in autism.  The study was designed to determine if living close to sources of mercury pollution in 1998 were related to autism prevalence in 2002. They found that for every 1000 pounds of industrial release, there were a 2.6% increase in autism rates and a 3.7% increase associated with power plant emissions. Overall, for every 10 miles away you got from industrial or power plant sources, there was a decrease in autism rates.

The same researchers revealed an association between environmentally-released mercury and autism rates also in Texas.  For each 1,000 lb of environmentally released mercury, there was a 61% increase in ASD.

Toxins play a large role in the health of our bodies. Lead levels have been linked to ASD, ADHD and learning disabilities.  The Environmental Working Group (EWG) released a study that found an average of 200 industrial chemicals and pollutants in umbilical cord blood from 10 babies born in U.S. hospitals in 2004.  Further tests revealed a total of 287 chemicals in this group of children. The umbilical cord blood identified pesticides, consumer product ingredients, and wastes from burning coal, gasoline, and garbage. It is clear that environmental toxicity is impacting all children and adults.

 

Environmental Factors and Autism – Part 1

coal-power-plant-and-autism

As a health care practitioner who specializes in autism, the relationship between autism spectrum disorder, genetics and environmental toxicity is first in my mind always and this has also been the subject of research for many years.  What we do know now is that one of the key reasons for the dramatic rise in autism rates in the last 15-20 years can be attributed to environmental toxicity.

Children with autism are more susceptible to oxidative damage and environmental toxins than other children. Autism research has shown that oxidative stress levels are high and antioxidant levels are low.  Antioxidants protect our bodies from harmful chemicals and substances circulating in food, air, water and soil.  They are essential for normal development.  Environmental toxins such as heavy metals, chemicals, pesticides and other harmful substances lower a person’s antioxidant status.

In each of our bodies there are 7 detoxification pathways that are supported by antioxidants.  There is a relationship between normal development and detoxification that is necessary to be in balance for children to grow, thrive, and learn new skills.

Research has shown that children with autism have depleted stores of glutathione, one of the body’s most important antioxidants that support detoxification of toxic substances. Researchers have identified that children with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) had up to 80% of this important compound depleted.  The brain relies 100% on glutathione to support development, therefore as glutathione levels decrease, so does the “fuel” needed for development.

The Autism Epidemic – a macroepigenetic approach to identify responsible factors

The demand for special education has risen unceasingly in the category of pervasive age-linked disorders. Autism, a developmental disorder, has been defined as a universal age-related ailment known to appear within the first three years of childhood. The number of children – ranging between the ages of 6 and 21 – in the United States alone receiving special education services under the autism disability category has increased by 91 percent in the last eight years.

Symptoms of Autism include:
• Failure to cultivate and preserve relationships with peers
• Declinations in verbal and nonverbal communication
• Inability to social interchange

Recent studies show that our constant exposure to pestilential substances plays an essential role in determining the probable causes of the autism epidemic in the United States to date. The utilization of dietetic elements and constant exposure to toxic substances being released into the environment on a day to day basis can in fact increase the chances of gene modification.

The alteration of gene expression can negatively impact neurodevelopment significantly simply because the resulting mineral disparities caused by OP pesticides (Pb) and heavy metals (Hg) have the ability to generate and open corridors for oxidative stress within the brain. By reducing levels in PON1 activity and exposing inorganic fructose and mercury to HFCS, the likely hood of accumulating levels of homocysteine – a substance often affiliated with DNA hypomethylation – carrying on into future generations could become greater. Even still, research has shown that patterns in gene expression vary geologically from one population to the next.

Why is Methylation Critical in Autism?

Methylation is so important because it produces glutathione. Glutathione is important for maintaining and restoring health, both physical and mental. Children with autism tend to have lower levels of glutathione when compared to non-autistic children.  Genetically, families with autism tend to have lower amounts of glutathione and also may have a tendency towards problems with schizophrenia, alcoholism, bi-polar disease, depression, and attention deficit disorder. Glutathione is an antioxidant that is essential for protecting cells in the body from toxins.

There are ways that we can help to increase our body’s ability to produce glutathione. By increasing key ingredients in our bodies, we can improve the process of methylation. The following are some of the key ingredients to focus on:

  • Vitamin B12 in its methyl form.
  • Vitamin B6
  • Folic acid
  • Dimethylglycine also known as DMG.
  • Trimethylglycine also known as TMG.
  • Methionine
  • N-acetyl cysteine also known as NAC.
  • Glutathione given as an IV infusion, inhaled with a nebulizer, rubbed in as a cream, and orally.

Improving glutathione production can have a positive impact on focus, concentration, and language.

What is Chelation and How Can it Help My Child with Autism? Part 2

Chelating agents can be given through an IV, or by mouth. The most common chelating agents for removing heavy metals (lead, arsenic or mercury) include dimercaptosuccinic acid (DMSA), 2,3-dimercapto-1-propanesulfonic acid (DMPS), alpha lipoic acid (ALA), and Calcium disodium EDTA.

Agents and what they typically chelate:

  • DMSA: lead, mercury, arsenic. DMSA also normalizes glutathione levels.
  • DMPS: mercury.
  • Calcium disodium EDTA: lead, other heavy metals, and some minerals.

Although conventional scientific institutes don’t recognize the link between chelation and improvement in an autistic child’s behavior, many parents opt for chelation therapy as a means of aiding their autistic children.

Since 1967 The Autism Research Institute has collected “Parent Ratings of behavioral Effects of Biomedical Interventions.” Tens of thousands of responses have been logged so far. Chelation therapy was recently added to the list of biomedical interventions, and of the 470 parents who reported their children using chelation, 75% reported “good” results. That’s fairly strong evidence!

What is Chelation and How Can it Help My Child with Autism? Part 1

Chelation is the process utilized to remove damaging heavy metals from the body. Mercury, iron, and other metals are often found in the Autistic body and can have negative effects on the brain making Autism symptoms even worse. Another source of damaging metals is Thimerosal, which is found in many childhood vaccines. Chelation Therapy includes the administering of chelating agents to remove heavy metals. Chelation has been proven to remove excess or toxic metals before they can damage the body and was first used in the 1940s by the Navy to treat lead poisoning.

Our bodies have natural methods of eliminating these toxins from our bodies. In the very young and the very old, it can be more difficult to rid the body of heavy metals, which can therefore accumulate faster than they can be removed.

Heavy metals are tested in various regions of the body depending on which heavy metal it is. One of the most sensitive tests available at most labs is called a Porphyrin Profile.

Overfiring Autonomic Nervous System Leads To Underactive Toxin Elimination

The Autonomic Nervous System, (ANS) is responsible for much of the involuntary actions of the body including perspiration, heart rate, and digestion.

There are three parts to the Autonomic Nervous System; the sympathetic, parasympathetic, and enteric nervous systems. The Sympathetic is responsible for the function of the body’s organs. When working properly, these systems together enable to body to function healthily and maintain an overall state of wellness.

But what happen when things go wrong?

It has been found that in most Autistic Children, the Autonomic Nervous System is overactive.

By function, the sympathetic nervous system inhibits the eliminatory organs. As their name suggests, these organs are responsible for ridding the body of toxins, such as lead, mercury, iron, and other heavy metals. In fact, it has a catabolic effect on the body – that is, it causes the body to break down body tissue.  When this system is over-active, the body has a nearly impossible chance of eliminating harmful toxins.

Children can be on effective diets, and you could be doing everything “right” but if the body is working against itself, then the diet will have a lesser chance of being successful.

Regulating the sympathetic nervous system is the key to maintaining optimum gut health.  In this case, we have to treat the problem at the source.

Just as doing physical exercises promotes maximum heart health, doing brain-exercises can help aid in the regulation of the sympathetic nervous system.

Next week, we’ll take a closer look at brain exercises and which are best for children with Autism with over-active nervous systems.

What is Defeat Autism Now (DAN!)?

Defeat Autism Now (DAN!) is a project that was founded in the 1960s by Dr. Bernard Rimland. Doctors trained in the “DAN! Protocol,” are taught an approach to autism which begins with the idea that autism is a biomedical disorder. This approach was developed by the Autism Research Institute (ARI) which has more than 1,000 documented cases of autistic children who have recovered.

The belief among DAN! doctors is that autism is a disorder caused by a lowered immune response, issues caused by some foods, and external toxins from vaccines and other sources.

What Type of Treatments do DAN! Doctors Prescribe?


  • Supplements such as vitamins, minerals, amino acids, enzymes, and essential fatty acids.
  • Gluten- and dairy-free diets.
  • Food allergy testing.
  • Treating dysbiosis in the gut using non-pharmacological medications (i.e. intestinal bacterial/yeast overgrowth).
  • Heavy metal detoxification.

What can I expect at my DAN! Doctor Appointment?

You can expect that your child will go through some testing mostly revolving around the state of their internal body. A test for hidden food allergies will be conducted to be sure that any dietary changes that are made as part of your child’s treatment plan are beneficial and not more damaging to them.

You should leave with your questions answered and a customized treatment plan for your child’s needs. If you have questions, ask, ask, ask. Remember, these doctors chose to be DAN! doctors. They believe in this treatment method, and want to see your child healthy!

Is There a Link Between Uranium and Autism?

image via: BBC News

Recently a reader wrote us to ask about the link between autism and depleted uranium.   The reader comes from Belgrade, Serbia; a city that was bombed by NATO in 1999 with depleted uranium bombs.  Thirteen years later the reader is the father of a four years old daughter with autism.  Is there a link between the bombing in 1999 and autism in a child born nine years later?  Our answer is probably.

While, we can’t say for sure if this particular case of autism is caused by the depleted uranium but we do know that uranium is a highly toxic substance.  Once someone is exposed to uranium it can stay and reek havoc on their system for many years.  Some children with autism have a build up of one or more toxic metals because of their inability to excrete them.  When toxic metals become lodged in the brain the brain does not function normally, causing autistic symptoms and learning disorders.

Uranium poisoning is characterized by generalized health impairment[1]. The element and its compounds produce changes in the kidneys, liver, lungs, cardiovascular, and nervous systems.  Most importantly, uranium exposure affects uterine and extra-uterine development in experimental animals. Uranium exposure in a mother results in uranium exposure in her children.

It is entirely possible for a four-year old child to have uranium poisoning because of her parent’s exposure to depleted uranium from the 1999 bombing of Belgrade.

Research Scientist Leuren Moret, calls depleted uranium “The Trojan Horse of nuclear war – it keeps giving and keeps killing. There’s no way to clean it up, and no way to turn it off because it continues to decay into other radioactive isotopes…” As it decays, it continues to release more radiation.

The biggest concern in regards to depleted uranium is the radiation residue after the initial use.  The residue is microscopic and permanent.  Depleted Uranium contamination causes virtually every known illness and disease from severe headaches, muscle pain and general fatigue, to major birth defects, infection, depression, cardiovascular disease, many types of cancer and brain tumors. Uranium contamination is now being linked to asthma, diabetes, and autism.

 


[1] Encyclopedia of Occupational Health and Safety Volume II. 1974.

 

How To: Detox Environmental Toxicities

Body detoxification is the new big thing in healthy living. It’s very common in weight loss and healthy living scenarios to detoxify the body of harmful toxins that affect the immune and other important systems from functioning properly.

In order to keep the body free and clear from toxins, there are some dietary things that we can do, as well as avoiding smog, nicotine and other harmful substances. However, the environment itself carries it’s own amount of toxins and these are hard to avoid unless you live in a bubble. Yet, these toxins are bad for the body and the longer they are allowed to exist, they are given the chance to do damage.

Before we can correct the damage that may have already been done, we have to rid the body of the current toxins as not to produce more issues.

So, how do you detoxify the body from environmentally originated toxins?

1) Avoidance of Exposure

It’s important that you be sure that your child (and yourself!) are consistently exposed to clean air, food and water. Avoid smoking areas and being in a city with a lot of vehicle smog for long periods of time. Be sure you’re allowing your child to consume clean food that isn’t at risk for toxins or pesticides. Additionally, a diet free of gluten and casein has become popular and effective in avoiding allergic reactions. Avoid tap water when possible – or have a water filter in place. You’ll taste the difference most immediately when switching from tap to filtered water.

2) Supplementation

It is common in Autistic Children to find that their body is lacking the adequate vitamins and minerals to have an effective immune system. When the immune system isn’t working, it can’t fight off infection (which explains why you may notice your child might be very sick very often).

Once you find out what your child’s body is lacking, you can supplement it by modifying his/her diet and administering supplements in the form of multivitamins.

Dr. Walter Crinnion, a Naturopathic Doctor, has done increased studies on vitamins and minerals and wrote an article in response to a claim that vitamins were more dangerous than drugs. As Dr. Crinnion explains, it’s true that too much of some minerals is bad, as copper in excess can cause toxic damage, there is no backup that says multi-vitamins are useless.

3) Cleansing

Dr. Crinnion has also done a great deal of work in detoxification by ridding the body of toxic load. He studies the foods that could be making you sick. He interestingly points out that the foods that your child craves the most could be the ones that are causing the most damage. We’ve talked here before about the body being “addicted” to gluten as it attaches to the brain similar to morphine.

Cleansing the body of these things is essential to get on the right path to wellness.

There are a few methods that can be utilized to cleanse the body of toxins: Of the most popular and effective are:

Chelation –  Chelation is the process utilized to remove damaging heavy metals from the body. Mercury, iron, and other metals are often found in the Autistic body and can have negative effects on the brain making Autism symptoms even worse. Another source of damaging metals is Thiomersal, which is found in many childhood vaccines. Chelation Therapy includes the administering of chelating agents to remove heavy metals.

Juicing – By utilizing fruits and vegetables that are highly concentrated, the body flushes out unnecessary toxins. The body digests juices very quickly (in about 25 minutes), so it’s nutrients get in and get to work very quickly. Organic fruits and vegetables are best for juice detoxification and can easily be done at home. Enzymes, vitamins and minerals will be given to your body while toxins will be evicted!

The first step is realizing what is affecting the body negatively. The 2nd, avoiding the things that are making the body sick. And the 3rd, ridding the body of existing toxins. Getting the body in good working order is the key to treating Autism instead of fueling it.

Ready to find out what the state of your child’s body is? We can help! How about a Blood Chemistry Analysis. Dr. Wong will analyze over 70 biomarkers in order to give you a recommendation of what dietary changes your child might need to take part in, what vitamins and minerals are lacking, and what underlying diseases or disorders he/she may have.

Click here to order this test.

It includes the test, courier, shipping and handling, a full analysis, follow up correspondence, full report of findings, and a recommended diet plan if applicable…all of that is included in the purchase price!

 

*Photo Credit: Via