“How could we have ever believed that it was a good idea to grow our food with poisons? ~ Jane Goodall
Sometimes I copy an article – I always link to the source – this article describes exactly what I believe about one of the causes of autism.
We have to take some time to realize that the huge increases in autism and dementia that we are experiencing are not normal.
In the US 1 in 68 children are diagnosed with autism.
In Dominica we are soaking the ground with hundreds maybe 1000’s of gallons of insecticides and herbicides like Roundup every year. We only started in the 1960’s or so – but our autism rate has also grown – buy organic stop this environmental pollution of our beautiful land.
Experts say autism is the fastest-growing developmental disability. Years down the line many autistic children will be adults who need ongoing medical care.
This article is from Collective Evolution – a Toronto based grassroots organization created in 2009, CE is now one of the world’s most popular alternative media, production, and community outlets that gives readers an opportunity to reshape their everyday way of thinking. CE’s content ranges from full-length articles, to videos, to live events, all of which share one common goal: to raise awareness about how our world functions, and to encourage conscious change that moves beyond it.
Here is the article
There is no single known cause for autism spectrum disorder (ASD), but it is widely accepted by the scientific community that it is triggered by abnormalities in brain structure and function. This has been established in studies which illustrate the differences in the shape and structure of the autistic brain compared to those seen in the brains of neurotypical children. There is also a decent amount of evidence to support the theory that some children are born with a susceptibility to autism, but scientists have yet to identify this “trigger.” This is why researches have theorized that irregular segments of genetic code may be the root cause of autism.
In recent years, however, a wealth of information has emerged that was once never even considered. Despite the fact that the cause for autism isn’t certain, and that it’s highly unlikely researchers will ever find that ‘one’ cause of autism, scientists are now realizing that autism could be the result of the modern day human lifestyle. There are a number of significant studies that should be ringing alarm bells in the medical and scientific communities in this regard.
I’d also like to mention that autism is a large spectrum, some of what we are seeing here are in no way a ‘disability.’ Some may be due to malformations at critical stages of development due to the factors mentioned in this article. Other cases could be a gift, a slight evolutionary leap or an ability to access other parts of the brain. I just want to make it clear that the spectrum is huge, and many children who are diagnosed with ASDs do not have their brain scanned, much of the time they are diagnosed strictly through observation and social tendencies.
Since autism is strongly correlated with malformations during critical stages of development, especially in fetal states, scientists are finding that some of the strongest predictors for autism are associated with the environment. At particular stages of pregnancy the fetus is extremely vulnerable to whatever toxins the mother is exposed to, such as plasticers, prescription drugs, and environmental pesticides.
As Andrey Rzhetsky, Professor of Genetic Medicine and Human Genetics at the University of Chicago points out, “some of these small molecules essentially alter normal development.” A couple of years ago he published a study in the journal PLOS Computational Biology with researchers at the University of Chicago; it revealed that autism and intellectual disability (ID) rates are linked with exposure to harmful environmental factors during congenital development. His team looked at data that covered one third of the United States population, as well as more than 21 countries. They found that environmental lead, medications, and a large variety of other synthetic molecules (like pesticides, mercury, aluminum and more) all wreak havoc on the fetus. These substances were also linked with congenital malformations of male genitalia – which is strongly correlated with autism. (source)(source)
This is one out of many significant studies which should really be signaling to the medical and scientific community that preventative measures are crucial in the fight against autism; parents who want to decrease their risk of bearing a child with autism need to be educated in such measures.
“It’s time to start looking for the environmental culprits responsible for the remarkable increase in the rate of autism.” – Irva Hertz-Picciotto, Epidemiology Professor at University of California, Davis. (source)
It should be clear that autism goes well beyond a genetic problem. Our environment is full of neurodevelopment toxins, which are substances that alter how the brain grows. Polychlorinated diphenyl, lead, mercury, aluminum, brominated flame retardants, and pesticides are a few out of many examples.
There is a reason why, in the United States alone, autism rates have risen from 1;10,000 in 1981 to 1;68 in 2014. It’s time to look at our environment.
If we were to focus on just one (out of dozens) of these environmental toxins that we are exposed to on a daily basis, it would not be difficult to see how it could significantly increase the chances for autism. Throw in the dozens of other toxins that are equally as problematic, and the picture becomes much clearer.
Let’s take a look at pesticides, if only because billions of tonnes of these chemicals are sprayed on food and in our environment each year. In the United States alone, over 1 billion pounds of pesticides are sprayed every year, and approximately 5.6 billion pounds are used worldwide. It’s also disturbing to note, as emphasized by multiple publications, that all commercial formulations of pesticides are very complex mixtures of active and other ingredients. These “other” ingredients “include a wide variety of substances which are added to increase the efficacy of the product in a cost-effective manner. Information regarding these other compounds is considered proprietary business information and is not publicly available.” (source)
That being said, the information that we do have about the active ingredients in pesticides still paints a shocking picture.
For example, a study coming out of the University of California, Davis, determined that pregnant women who live in close proximity to land and farms where chemical pesticides are/were applied experience a two-thirds increased risk of having a child with autism spectrum disorder or some other developmental disorder.
The study examined associations between pesticides — including organophosphates (a main ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide) — that were applied during the participants’ pregnancies and a later diagnosis of autism or developmental delay in their children.
The study was published online this summer in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives.(1) It concluded that proximity to organophosphates alone, at some point during gestation, was associated with a 60% increased risk for ASD:
This study validates the results of earlier research that had reported associations between having a child with autism and prenatal exposure to agricultural chemicals in California. While we still must investigate whether certain sub-groups are more vulnerable to exposures to these compounds than others, the message is very clear: Women who are pregnant should take special care to avoid contact with agricultural chemicals whenever possible. – Janie F. Shelton, a UC Davis graduate student who now consults with the United Nations, lead author of the study (source)
Many people like to mention that correlation does not mean causation, but they fail to use the Bradford Hill Criteria and consider just how much information correlates with the evidence at hand.
“How could we have ever believed that it was a good idea to grow our food with poisons? . . . As part of the process, they portrayed the various concerns as merely the ignorant opinions of misinformed individuals — and derided them as not only unscientific, but anti-science. They then set to work to convince the public and government officials, through the dissemination of false information, that there was an overwhelming expert consensus, based on solid evidence, that GMOs were safe.” – Jane Goodall
The study cited above found that organophosphates applied over the course of pregnancy were associated with an elevated risk of autism spectrum disorder. The study also found that exposures to insecticides for those living near agricultural areas may be problematic, especially during gestation, because a developing fetal brain is more vulnerable to such chemicals than an adult’s.
Because these pesticides are neurotic, in utero exposures during early development may distort the complex processes of structural development and neuronal singling producing alterations to the excitation and inhibition mechanisms that govern mood, learning, social interactions and behaviour.
“Because of the observed associations in humans and direct effects on neurodevelopmental toxicity in animal studies, caution is warranted for women to avoid direct contact with pesticides during pregnancy.”(source)
These pesticides are not just potential factors for the development of atusim, The active ingredient in Roundup is Glyphosate, which was recently linked to cancer by the World Health Organization (source). It was also found to be 125 times more toxic than regulators claimed. (source)
Pesticides sprayed on our food have also been linked to birth defects. (source) A paper published in the journal Pediatrics found that prenatal exposure to some of the pesticides sprayed on our food could impair the anthropometric development of the fetus, reducing the birth weight, length, and head circumference. (source)
There are a number of studies that have examined pesticide-induced diseases in fetuses. You can view some of them here.
Canadian research has also identified the presence of GMO-associated pesticides in maternal, fetal, and non-pregnant women’s blood. They also found the presence of Monsanto’s Bt toxin. The study was published in the journal Reproductive Toxicology in 2011. (source)
The study concluded that, apart from pesticides, Monsanto’s Bt toxins are clearly detectable and appear to cross the placenta to the fetus. The study pointed out that the fetus is highly susceptible to the adverse affects of xenobiotics (foreign chemical substances found within an organism that are not naturally produced). This is why the study emphasized that knowing more about GMOs is crucial, because environmental agents could disrupt the biological events that are required to ensure normal growth and development.
Here is another study that shows glyphosate can cause abnormalities. It was published in 2010 by the American Chemical Society; the research was conducted at the University of Buenos Aires, Argentina.
“The direct effect of glyphosate on early mechanisms of morphogenesis in vertebrate embryos opens concerns about the clinical findings from human offspring in populations exposed to GBH in agricultural fields.”
In late 2013, the European Food Safety Authority determined that pesticides may negatively affect the development of neurons and brain structures in unborn babies.
“Given the ubiquitous exposure to many environmental toxicants, there needs to be renewed efforts to prevent harm. Such prevention should not await detailed evidence on individual hazards. . . . Toxic exposure to chemical pollutants during these windows of increased susceptibility can cause disease and disability in childhood and across the entire span of human life.” (source) – From the world’s foremost pediatricians, toxicologists, environmental scientists, and epidemiologists at a conference held in 2007
“Chemical pollution represents a serious threat to children and to Man’s survival.” (source) – The Standing Committee of European Doctors
As you can see above, environmental toxins are of big concern. Just to reiterate, we are talking about multiple toxins found in a variety of products that have found their way into the human lifestyle. Air fresheners, pesticides, prescription drugs, fluoride (neuro-toxin), and a host of other contaminants could all be contributing factors for autism. This is probably why scientists have not been able to identify one specific cause. Considering how many environmental toxins we are regularly exposed to, it becomes clear that we are dealing with multiple instigators which, in combination, represent serious cause for concern.