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Scientists Find 'Baffling' Link between Autism and Vinyl Flooring

April 25, 2009 | 54,864 views

vinyl flooringChildren who live in homes with vinyl floors, which can emit chemicals called phthalates, are more likely to have autism, according to new research. The study is among the first to find an apparent connection between an environmental chemical and autism.

The scientists were surprised by their finding, especially since their research was not initially designed to focus on autism. The researchers recommend further study of larger numbers of children to see whether the link can be confirmed.

In the study, families were asked questions about flooring as part of research investigating allergies and indoor air pollutants. The researchers found instead that four environmental factors were associated with autism -- vinyl flooring, the mother's smoking, family economic problems and condensation on windows (which can be an indicator of poor ventilation).

Infants or toddlers who lived in bedrooms with vinyl floors were twice as likely to have autism five years later.
 

Dr. Mercola's Comments:

What causes autism is one of the most hotly debated topics in modern medicine, and one that is continuing to evolve as we speak. What we know so far is that autism is almost certainly caused by a combination of factors, and environmental chemicals are likely one of them.

This latest finding -- that children who live in homes with vinyl flooring were twice as likely to have autism five years later than those with wood or linoleum flooring -- took even the researchers by surprise, and though it falls short of proving a causal link, it deserves some further attention.

Vinyl floors can emit chemicals called phthalates, which are widely used plastic softeners found in much more than just vinyl flooring. Hairsprays, perfumes, cosmetics, toys, shower curtains, wood finishers, lubricants, certain medical devices and more all contain phthalates.

The effects of these chemicals on your endocrine system, particularly during pregnancy, breastfeeding and childhood are very disturbing. For instance, animal studies on certain phthalates have shown the chemicals may cause reproductive and developmental harm, organ damage, immune suppression, endocrine disruption and cancer.

In terms of autism, researchers have suggested the chemicals may contribute to autism by disrupting hormones not only in small children but also in the womb.

What Other Environmental Factors May Also Contribute to Autism?

Autism probably arises from a combination of genetic defects (which account for only about 1 percent of cases) and exposure to toxic chemicals, viruses or other environmental influences, including:

1. Vitamin D deficiency: There is a link between rampant vitamin D deficiency in pregnant women and the proportionate jump in autism, which has recently been highlighted by Dr. John Cannell. The vitamin D receptor appears in a wide variety of brain tissue early in the fetal development, and activated vitamin D receptors increase nerve growth in your brain.

It is my personal belief that this may be the single largest contributing factor to autism and that it is a deficiency of sun exposure to the pregnant mom, and subsequently to the fetus, that puts the child at a massively increased risk of developing autism.

So one of THE MOST IMPORTANT changes that could radically reduce autism is to make certain ALL pregnant women have their vitamin D levels normalized to 50-60 ng/ml.

2. Mercury and other metals, such as aluminum: The major route of exposure here is from vaccines, and also from eating contaminated seafood.

3. Pesticides: Several studies have found a connection between children's exposure to household or agricultural pesticides and autism.

4. Viruses and microbes: It has recently become apparent that chronic infections like Lyme disease are extremely common in autistic children. Any type of chronic infection, whether caused by Lyme disease or any other microbe, such as mold, can spread through your system and make you chronically ill.

One of the major problems among autistic children is that their detoxification pathways are overwhelmed because the biotoxins produced by the infection compete for the same detoxification pathways as do other toxins, like mercury, pesticides, vaccines and so on.

5. Electromagentic fields: These come not only from cell phones and cordless phones, but also from electrical outlets and WI-FI. Dr. Dietrich Klinghardt, one of my mentors and a world leader in the areas of psychoneurobiology, environmental toxicity, chronic infection, considers EMF "synergistically causal," partly because it potentiates the production of toxic microbes and endotoxins.

In other words, when toxic microbes in your body are exposed to electromagnetic fields, they think they are being attacked. They respond by producing even more biotoxins in an attempt to prolong their survival.
Because environmental chemicals and other potential autism triggers can be literally anywhere -- in your home, food, air, water, clothing, etc. -- it is important to do whatever you can to establish a mold, dust, toxin and smell-free environment for your whole family, especially if you have young children, a child with autism or are pregnant.

To get started, here are 29 practical tips to keep chemicals out of your body, compiled by Dr. Doris Rapp, author of Our Toxic World: A Wake Up Call.

Dr. Rapp is one of my early mentors. She is 80 years old now and still a spitfire. I had dinner with her a few weeks ago when I was lecturing in Phoenix and she is still teaching and playing tennis.

The Top 10 List for Treating Autism

I have also been inspired to collaborate with some of the leading experts in autism, including Dr. Klinghardt, and participate in the THRIIVE think-tank that will provide basic resources for those afflicted with autism.

Because autism is a complex condition with many contributing factors, it takes a multi-faceted approach to treat it.

With that in mind, here is the Top 10 Prioritized To Do List from THRiiVE, including what to ADD to your life and what to REMOVE from your life to best live with autism. Please note that we did not focus solely on defeating autism when making this list, but rather on what is needed in order to THRiiiVE!

Further, Dr. Klinghardt also recommends making the following three steps to treat children with autism a priority:

1. Lower microbial burden: Make your child’s body less of an optimal habitat for microbial overgrowth through dietary changes (less starch & sugar at minimum) and lowering overall stress. Also, consider testing for mold (in the house) & Lyme (in the body) but only after “provocation treatment.”

2. Lower incoming toxic burden: Do whatever you can to establish a mold, dust, toxin & smell free environment for your whole family & THEN establish a detoxification program. Please remember hidden toxins like fluoride and look carefully at ALL your cleaning products.

3. Lower EMF burden in your child’s home and bedroom. Your child’s health will be optimized with daily sun exposure (healthy EMF) and nightly avoidance of man-made (harmful) EMF.

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