Environmental Factors and Autism – Part 3

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We know based on research that growth and development can be severely impaired by chemicals, pesticides, metals and other toxic substances. Is there anything that we can do now?

  • We can support green efforts to decrease environmental pollutants.
  • We can prepare for pregnancy by detoxifying 3-6 months before trying to conceive.
  • We can address nutrient deficiencies and correct them.
  • We can eat a diet rich in good quality protein, green leafy vegetables and complex carbohydrates.
  • We can choose supplements like omega-3 and antioxidants to protect our cells.
  • We can breastfeed our babies as it has been shown to decrease rates of ASD and ADHD.

Children with autism can benefit from increasing nutrient and antioxidant status.  Correcting nutrient deficiencies, taking essential fatty acids and increasing antioxidant levels show positive improvements in language, social and cognitive development.

Environmental Factors and Autism – Part 1

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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.

How Can Chiropractic Medicine Help To Prevent And Treat Autism

Chiropractic treatments are often used to treat, and in some cases, to help cure, a variety of conditions. Many tend to think of them as only for a bad back, or a sore arm, but as a number of those who have autism are discovering, chiropractic care can help to treat the symptoms. In some cases, regular treatments may also help to prevent autism from occurring, which is particularly important for parents to consider.

During a chiropractic treatment, the chiropractor may employ one of several types of treatments in order to ‘adjust’ the spine of the patient. The first, and most popular, is a hands on approach, meaning that they will gently touch the patient to manually manipulate the spine or other areas of the body, such as the wrists or knees. There is evidence that treatments such as this can help to stimulate entire body, which often leads to increase motor skills and encourage a greater range of motion. Many report being able to function better, not only in day to day manual tasks, but also have an increased ability with some social interactions.

The results typically depend on the severity of the condition, as well as the length of the treatment. Some may begin to notice a difference with their very first chiropractic treatment, while others may need several in order to see or feel a difference. Repeat treatments often have a cumulative effect for a number of patients, and can often be a vital tool in treating all levels of autism at any age.

Environmental Working Group Keeps Public Informed Of Potential Dangers

Environment Toxicity and Autism

Once a child is born, as parents, we begin to worry non-stop about germs and potential health hazards that could affect the child. When your child has Autism, the fear and concern is only heightened since they are more prone to infection and being affected by different environmental elements.

It seems that everyday, the CDC and EWG (Environmental Working Group, a non-profit organization dedicating to making the public aware of environmental dangers, are discovering that something else in the environment is negatively affecting our health, and particularly the health of Children. While it can certainly seem a bit overwhelming, the more we find out, the more we can protect ourselves and our children from potential hazards.

Below are a few of the research findings of the EWG. You can read more about the organization as well as learn more about their other findings here.

Bispenol A (BPA)

On July 27th, 2010, EWG reported that labrotory tests found that a whopping 40% of receipts from well-known businesses were found to have high levels of bisphenol A. Abbreviated as BPA, bisphenol A  is an organic compound that is used to make polycarbonate plastic. Questions began to arise as to the safety of the compound in 2008, and many retailers removed products containing BPA from its shelves. In 2010 the danger of BPA exposure to unborn fetuses, infants, and children was explored and Canada declared BPA a toxic substance.

In a 2008 study by DC Jones and GW Miller, it was found that Bispenol A did affect dopamine reactions in the brain, therefore triggering hyperactivity and attention deficits.

Luckily, stores such as Target, Starbucks, and Bank of America ATMs seem to be making sure that their receipt paper is BPA free.

Chromium 6 In Tap Water

Chromium 6 is a compound that contains chromium with an oxidation state of +6. It is often found in dyes, plastics, and inks. Depending on how Chromium 6 is subjected to the body, it will have different affects. For example, if it comes in contact with the eyes or skin, it will cause a mild to severe irritation. If it is ingested, as with water, it is especially dangerous if the body contains Vitamin C. Chromium 6 reacts adversely with Vitamin C, and can cause damage to the cells in the lungs.

In December of 2010, the EWG reported that out of 35 states that were tested, chromium 6 was found in the tap water of 31 of the states.  This was a major concern of the parents of infants, because a large number of babies are formula fed with formula that requires that water be added.

One of the States that tested positively for Chromium 6 was California. Shortly after the EWG reported the danger of the state’s tap water, there has been an adjustment to the plan for the future of drinking water. Very soon, it is expected that California drinking water will be reduced of it’s Chromium 6 contents.

We can only hope that other states follow, or that the government demands that they do so.

Government Acknowledges Flouride Issues

We’ve discussed here on New Autism Cure the dangers of excess fluoride. Ever since the 1940’s, fluoride has been added to products to prevent tooth decay. Many of us may even remember gathering together with our classmates and having a group fluoride rinse every month. The EWG even mentions that they support the use of Fluoride in products like toothpaste where it has proven to be beneficial and effective in preventitive care.

However, it has been found after years of research that an excess of fluoride can provide significant problems including minor issues such as tooth discoloration, to more severe conditions like neurotoxicity. Children, and even adults, consume much more water than they do toothpaste. And this can be dangerous, especially if the water is high in fluoride.

Soon, it will be recommended that local utility companies decrease the amount of fluoride added to their water.

It’s important that we stay informed on the potential dangers of everyday things that our children come into contact with. As you can clearly see, toxic metals and substances that adversely affect the brain can be found in everyday products. The Environmental Working Group is a great resource for educational material on crucial health risks and toxins.

Preventing Autism: Part III – What to Do After Giving Birth

Newborn baby

Over the past few weeks, we’ve been taking a look at the things that should be done prior to and during pregnancy in order to ensure a healthy birth and to prevent Autism. (Pre Conception Tips can be found here, and tips to utilize during pregnancy here). This week, we’ll take a look at what you can do in the early months after birth to be sure that you are giving your child what he or she needs to remain strong and to promote healthy growth in the earliest period of your child’s life.

First and foremost, you want to be sure that you spend as much time with your newborn as possible. Talking to and comforting babies is very important. Some parents sleep alongside their babies to ensure a continuous contact scenario.

As we know, breastfeeding is one of the most personal and intimate experiences that a mother can share with their children. Not only does it provide one on one skin time, it is also a means for mothers to pass nutrition on to baby. Be sure to keep up your dietary health habits.  Be sure to include high quality protein  sources and keep up on your water intake. The recommended serving of water is 6 to 8 glasses. Additionally, continue taking a multivitamin.

A child’s immune system does not kick in on its own until it is about 18 months. Because of this, you should consider breastfeeding until the baby is between 1 and 2 years of age.

The actual birth of a child is not only hard on you as a parent, but also on the baby. Be sure to be checked out by a chiropractor soon after birth. Spinal alignment is essential for your stamina. The baby needs to have spinal alignment in order to promote healthy immune system function.

When purchasing crib bedding, be sure to go organic. Beware of bedding that is treated with flame retardants as they include toxic substances.

When it comes to immunizations, it is recommended that you avoid them all together until the baby is older. Even then, be cautious of which you chose to have your child receive. Be aware of the ingredients, and if Thiromesal, a mercury based preservative is included, steer clear. Unless you yourself are Hepatitis B positive, there is no need for the baby to be immunized in the hospital or during the first few months.

Food allergies are common in children with Autism. To prevent such developments, it is suggested that introductions to solids be postponed until at least 6 months of age. Even then, it should be organic vegetables. Grain foods should not be given to children until they have teeth. Before teeth appear, children do not have the digestive enzyme needed to process grains. If you personally have a history of food allergies, attempt to avoid those same foods for your baby.

As time passes, it becomes more apparent that Autism has a biochemical connection. It is important to make every effort to ensure that your body is healthy enough to provide healthy fluids to your child. With Autism cases on the rise and the common symptoms being digestively related, it is only natural to want to provide foods and fluids that promote neurological wellness. Before making any drastic changes to your diet, be sure to consult a physician.

Preventing Autism: Part II – What to Do During Pregnancy

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Last week we took a look at a comprehensive list of things that should be avoided, as well as habits that should be adopted prior to conceiving a child. (In case you missed it, you can read our blog here.) This week, we’ll move forward a bit and consider some of the things that should be done during pregnancy to prevent Autism. Some things on this list may shock you!

The majority of the habits that were featured on last week’s list of things to do prior to conceiving still apply including maintaining a healthy exercise schedule, avoiding mercury and other heavy metal sources, and making sure your diet is packed full of vitamins and minerals that prove healthy for mother and child.

Something that we’d like to point out this week, is that it’s a lot of little things that we often don’t even realize that could be giving off unhealthy chemicals and affecting the mother and child. One such thing is avoiding antibiotics when you’re sick. In the event that you do get sick during pregnancy, be sure to catch up on your rest and take plenty of Vitamin C. According to Pathways to Family Wellness Issue 26, there is no pharmaceutical on the market that has been completely proven safe to be taken during pregnancy. Anti-depressants, for example are actually very dangerous to take during pregnancy because of the effect that they can have on the neurological system of the unborn child.

As mentioned, your diet is very important to maintain. Be sure to always have a protein based snack on hand just in case of low-blood sugar. Organic and high-quality foods should be favored. For example, lean chicken, nuts, meat, eggs, and protein drinks. Be sure to be taken your multivitamins, including calcium and folic acid. The best source of Vitamin D is from the natural sunlight, however you may want to test your Vitamin D levels and if they are low,  consider taking a Vitamin D supplement as well

As with pre-conception, be sure to avoid vaccines and flu shots. Thiromesal is often found in vaccines as a preservative. Critics will argue that there is no proof that Thiromesal causes Autism, but the fact remains that Mercury is a proven toxic metal. Thiromesal is a mercury based preservative. Additionally, you should avoid fish that have high levels of mercury. (Mercury levels of fish can be found at gotmercury.org)

Also, keep up with chiropractic visits with a doctor who specializes in pregnant women. It’s important to maintain nerve function and pelvic quality during these months.

A reported higher number of Autism cases occur in Cesarean section births, so be sure to try to avoid it if possible. Understandably, the uncontrollable can happen, but be sure to speak to your pediatrician about your birthing preferences. Read up on the birthing procedures and interview midwives and get their input. The more knowledge you have, the more prepared you will be for the actual birth of your child.

When you do go into labor, try to avoid intrusive procedures such as epidurals, pain medication injection, and early cord clamping. During labor, you should also walk and try to stay as active as possible. Stay in an upright position or on all fours for pushing. This will enhance the ability of your pelvis to stretch open and give way to birth. The less that the doctor has to pull, the better. Any pulling on the baby can cause disruption to the spine, which is incredibly delicate and can cause long-term nerve damage.

This may seem like a lot to swallow, but with proper planning, most of these are just repetition and continuing the habits that you started pre-conception. It only takes one little mistake, miscalculation, or overlooked aspect to make a large, negative impact on the health of your baby. With Autism cases on the rise, can you really afford to NOT play it safe?