Monday, December 17, 2007

Environmental Causes of Autism

One of the most succinct arguments in support of an environmental theory of autism can be found in a fact cited by autism expert Simon Baron-Cohen, Director of the Autism Research Centre, Cambridge University :

Autism and Asperger’s syndrome run in families. If there is one child who has a diagnosis on the autistic spectrum, the likelihood of another child also having a diagnosis is about 5-10 per cent, which is higher than the general population rate. Molecular genetic studies are focused on identifying the key genes that might play a role in increasing the risk of a diagnosis. Studies of twins have established that it is not 100 per cent genetic, since even among identical twins, when one has autism, the likelihood of both twins having autism is only about 60 per cent. This means there must also be an environmental component, but what it is remains unknown.

Simon Baron-Cohen, Freedom of Expression, TIMESONLINE, December 14, 2007

What are the unknown environmental components of autism? Mercury is the most often mentioned. Lead is another frequently mentioned environmental suspect. In Autism Can Be Treated Dr. Carolyn Dean lists these and several other possible environmental contributors to the development of autism in some persons and offers her explanation of how these substances can be contributing factors in the development of autism:

When you allow yourself to go beyond the behavioral model of autism you will find research showing that one pivotal metabolic insult to an infant who develops autism is damage to a specific kinase enzyme. In a vulnerable segment of the population, perhaps 10%, a particular gene sequence can be damaged by heavy metals (mercury in children’s vaccines or flu shots and dental amalgams in the elderly), antibiotics, alcohol, and acetaminophin. This vulnerable gene sequence is found in people who have autism and Alzheimer’s; it is the template for creating the kinase enzyme P13. Some researchers refer to this gene sequence as the Alzheimer’s gene, which is damaged early in these children by of overwhelming metabolic insults.

Why is kinase P13 so important? The body requires kinase P13 for many tasks, one of which is to help break down gluten (a wheat, rye, oats, and barley protein) and casein (a milk protein). This same enzyme allows the methylation (or biochemical modification) of certain B vitamins. Without proper methylation of B12 into methylcobalamin and folic acid into folinic acid, hundreds of functions are impaired. For example, if you don’t have methylcobolamine, your liver can’t make glutathione (a powerful antioxidant). Without glutathione the body is not able to detoxify heavy metals. The vicious cycle is complete. The heavy metal that causes the gene damage in the first place is not excreted as it should be and continues to accumulate and cause more damage. So intricate are these pathways that giving children the wrong kind of folic acid or B12 can make matters worse; consequently autism therapy must be overseen by knowledgeable parents and practitioners.

Dr. Dean is an advocate of the DAN protocol which includes behavioral treatment along with the more controversial GF-CF diet treatment. Research is genetic causes of autism has been exploding in recent years, and hopefully will continue to provide more information about autism and its causes. Hopefully too the potential environmental causes of autism, including mercury, will be fully researched and cures developed. Some parents today prefer to find joy in their child's autism but I believe that most would cure their children and give them the richer life to which most of us aspire ...... if a cure were to become available. Given the likelihood of both genetic and environmental causes of autism, working in combination, it seems likely that autism cures will involve treatment or prevention of environmental insults to children with susceptible genetic heritage. Hopefully the necessary research will be permitted to continue and will not be shut down by the next misguided, hysterical, "autism is beautiful", campaign.


lolitad said...

I didn't know that the environmental factors are causing so harmfull things to autist persons.

Anonymous said...

For the last comment, it definitely is. This is a matter of science and chemistry, not opinions and thoughts. Autism is a range of symptoms caused by poisoning. There is a genetic weakness that is exploited by environmental toxins.

I have Asperger's and was able to eliminate many of the physical symptoms by doing detoxification for heavy metals, eliminating copper, and supplementing other minerals.