You all need to know about this powerful new study by Andrey Rzhetsky (: Rzhetsky A, Bagley SC, Wang K, Lyttle CS, Cook EH Jr, et al. (2014) Environmental and State-Level Regulatory Factors Affect the Incidence of Autism and Intellectual Disability. PLoS Comput Biol 10(3): e1003518. doi:10.1371/ journal.pcbi.1003518) about the strong connection of autism with environmental chemicals (endocrine disruptive chemicals). Today at the Autism Research Institute Think Tank meeting in Dallas, Dr. Rzhetsky discussed the findings of his elegant review of 100 million health records, which demonstrates a 283% increase in incidence of autism for every 1 % increase in incidence of male genital malformations (such as hypospadias, undescended testicle, malformed urethra, and micropenis). He found that a number of factors correlate with increased autism risk, but by far the strongest association is related to effects of endocrine disruption, which may be taken as a direct indicator of body burden of environmental toxins. By comparison, risk of intellectual disorder was only marginally associated with male reproductive malformations.
The findings strongly support a major contribution of environmental toxins to the autism epidemic, which I have long maintained to be the case. Autism has risen from a rate of 1/10,000 children when I trained in medicine in the early 70’s to 1/68 children per latest CDC report; does this catastrophic increase suggest a newly discovered genetic disorder to you?? No, it is rather an expression of intoxications which are impacting susceptible children, and causing the syndrome we call autism. If you want to hold on to the genetic concept, many of these chemicals do cause DNA damage and epigenetic disruptions, so that parent to child transmission may occur and appear to be a classic genetic syndrome. However, virtually none of you parents would be facing autism in your child if he/she had been born before 1980 or so, when the disorder was extremely rare. This study increases our confidence in focusing on environmental toxins as causal agents in the autism epidemic.
What shall we do? As parents of an affected child, your focus is primarily on healing and restoration of function for your child. A central aspect of this work is identifying ongoing toxic exposures and toxic burden in your child, in order to avoid further harm, and to facilitate detoxification and repair of immune/nervous system/intestinal/endocrine integrity. We know a lot about these substances and where they are encountered, and need to start by reducing their input into our child.
Perhaps the most informative and practical source of information is TEDX (search: the endocrine disruption exchange, founded by Theo Colburn, author of Our Stolen Future), which provides extensive information about more than 1000 endocrine disruptive chemicals (pesticides, plasticizers, flame retardants, PCB’s, cosmetics, Teflon-like materials, etc.), many of which are also genotoxic, neurotoxic, and immunotoxic. As you become aware of the many sources of these substances, you can begin to take action to create a safer home environment for your child, in which natural detoxification can begin to occur. This is a daunting task, but critical to your child, yourself and your other children’s health, healing, and protection from future diseases, such as cancer, autoimmunity, vascular disease, and a host of other concerns. Please refer to blogs I have posted on creating a safe bedroom and kitchen, as an important and accessible starting place.
This is a complex and extensive area, which I won’t attempt to address comprehensively in this discussion. Be aware that the majority of our work in addressing medical issues in autism is aimed at improving your child’s defense and detoxification systems. We do this through improving intestinal health, immune function, metabolic pathways, neurologic function, safety/comfort/stress, nutrition, diversity of diet and life experiences, and passive/active excretion of toxins.
At this point, there is virtually no regulation of this vast number of environmental toxins; to the contrary, as commercial producers of these substances have effectively blocked action by the Environmental Protection Agency. Witness the recent failure of a bill in Oregon to ban use of bisphenol A, a well-studied and highly problematic endocrine disruptive chemical. As consumers, and recipients of the effects of environmental toxins, we need to take action to protect our children, and to implement the precautionary principle which has not been implemented in the US, but is being used in the European Union: treat any substance which is to be introduced into our environment as toxic until proven otherwise.
I find this new and powerful study to bring a ray of hope. It is my hope that we will see a new and serious commitment to the investigation and mitigation of the vast array of environmental toxins found in our bodies, the bodies of our children, and even in the sacred womb where human life begins.