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.