Autism: The Alarming Increase

The explosion of the number of cases of autism is still a mystery.  We are recognizing that people on the spectrum seem to be unable to detoxify toxins as efficiently as those people who are “neurotypical” i.e. without autism or other major neurological disorders.  This quote from the website, Autism Speaks, summarizes the current thinking very well:  First and foremost, we now know that there is no one cause of autism just as there is no one type of autism. Over the last five years, scientists have identified a number of rare gene changes, or mutations, associated with autism. A small number of these are sufficient to cause autism by themselves. Most cases of autism, however, appear to be caused by a combination of autism risk genes and environmental factors influencing early brain development.”

What are the environmental factors referred to above?  Many scientists and doctors are concerned about the number of toxic chemicals we are now exposed to in our environment.  Where are these toxins coming from?  Over 80,000 new chemicals have been created since World War II.  How many are safe for us we don’t know because they have not been tested.  We are exposed through the air we breathe, the food we eat, the soaps and cosmetics and other products we put on our skin and hair, and through the liquids and food we eat and the vaccinations we receive.  These chemicals include names you are probably familiar with: BPA, phthalates, triclosan, DEET, MSG and chlorine and its byproducts in our water, just to name a few. Additionally, children are receiving more vaccinations than ever before.  How are we to identify the culprit?

Treatments for autism vary also.  Besides various behavioral approaches and educational techniques, medically some doctors prescribe medications while others, like myself, use alternative methods.  Autism and treatment can raise very heated discussions.

We must stop looking for the silver bullet, i.e. the one item that is “THE” culprit because, most likely, there are many variables.  One group of the toxins is pesticides.

How telling, then, is this graph showing the correlation between the explosion of autism and the explosion of the use of glyphosate, otherwise known as RoundUp, the weed and grass killer from Monsanto.  Granted, correlation does not equal causation.  Just because the number of cases of autism in the early 1990’s was much lower and the number seems to have increased at almost exactly the same rate as the use of Glyphosate does not mean that the chemical is the cause of autism.  However, knowing all the deleterious effects that have been connected with Glyphosate it certainly might be a strong provoker of the disorder in vulnerable children as is suggested by this graph:glyphosate_autism

What does this mean, then, for the average family?  My first recommendation would be to eat only organic food.  This will generally require preparing your own food and not eating processed foods.  We know that as many as 70% of the foods in the average grocery store now contain genetically-modified soy and/or corn.  I would recommend that any family with these issues avoid those foods.  In fact, I am recommending that we all avoid those foods.

Secondly, if you garden or farm, do not use glyphosate.

Write your state and federal legislators expressing your concern that this chemical has been allowed to be used despite the increasing evidence of its potential for harming our health.

Keep aware of the struggle by many groups to at least get genetically-modified foods labeled.  And then you would definitely know which foods not to buy.

Read the article about GMO foods and the deterioration of our health by Nancy Swanson who created this graph.

Towards good health for all.

About Cathie Lippman, M.D.

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