From Common Dreams: http://www.commondreams.org/view/2012/04/02
by Brian Moench
Published on Monday, April 2, 2012 by Common Dreams
A few days ago the Salt Lake Tribune’s front page headline declared, "Highest rate in the nation, 1 in 32 Utah boys has autism." This is a national public health emergency, whose epicenter is Utah, Gov. Herbert. A more obscure story on the same day read: "New pesticides linked to bee population collapse." If you eat food, and hope to do so in the future, this is another national emergency, Pres. Obama. A common denominator may underlie both headlines.
A Stanford University study with 192 pairs of twins, with one twin autistic and one not, found that genetics accounts for 38% of the risk of autism, and environmental factors account for 62%.
Supporting an environmental/genetic tag team are other studies showing autistic children and their mothers have a high rate of a genetic deficiency in the production of glutathione, an anti-oxidant and the body’s primary means of detoxifying heavy metals. High levels of toxic metals in children are strongly correlated with the severity of autism. Low levels of glutathione, coupled with high production of another chemical, homocysteine, increase the chance of a mother having an autistic child to one in three. That autism is four times more common among boys than girls is likely related to a defect in the single male X chromosome contributing to anti-oxidant deficiency. There is no such thing as a genetic disease epidemic because genes don't change that quickly. So the alarming rise in autism must be the result of increased environmental exposures that exploit these genetic defects.
During the critical first three months of gestation a human embryo adds 250,000 brain cells per minute reaching 200 billion by the fifth month. There is no chemical elixir that improves this biologic miracle, but thousands of toxic substances can cross the placenta and impair that process, leaving brain cells stressed, inflamed, less well developed, fewer in number and with fewer connections with each other all of which diminish brain function. The opportunity to repair the resulting deficits later on is limited.
The list of autism’s environmental suspects is long and comes from many studies that show higher rates of autism with greater exposure to flame retardants, plasticizers like BPA, pesticides, endocrine disruptors in personal care products, heavy metals in air pollution, mercury, and pharmaceuticals like anti-depressants. (Utah’s highest in the nation autism rates are matched by the highest rates of anti-depressant use and the highest mercury levels in the country in the Great Salt Lake).
Continue reading at: http://www.commondreams.org/view/2012/04/02