The majority of autism cases do appear to result from the activation or "expression" of a number of different genes, along with multiple epigenetic and environmental factors that interact to produce the traits of autism.
Furthermore, there's no shortage of evidence that toxins of different sorts can wreak havoc with brain function, which can lead to everything from depression to anxiety, learning disorders and more serious mental illnesses.
Add to this the more recent findings that your gut is profoundly influential for brain health, and a picture of toxic overload combined with inadequate nutrition comes into clear view. Some of the contributing factors, I believe, include the following broad categories:
- Toxic exposures: (Including agricultural chemicals; air and water pollutants; chemicals in personal care and household products; excessive vaccinations; heavy metals; prescription drugs, and more)
For example, research from 2009 discovered that infants who lived in homes with vinyl floors were twice as likely to have autism five years later, compared to those with wood or linoleum flooring. 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. Researchers have suggested the chemicals may contribute to autism by disrupting hormones not only in small children but also in the womb.
A 2011 review5 of the peer-reviewed, published studies on autism (going all the way back to 1943) revealed numerous documented cases of autism caused by encephalitis following vaccination. There are many potential vaccine-related culprits, including the use of toxic adjuvants; the presence of human DNA in vaccines; and the increasing number of vaccines given in a short period of time.
Heavy metal exposures are also common and can wreak havoc with your brain function. It is already an established fact that exposure to mercury can cause immune, sensory, neurological, motor, and behavioral dysfunctions -- all similar to traits defining, or associated with autism.
Mercury pollution is widespread from the burning of fossil fuels, but the use of thimerosal-containing vaccines and dental amalgams—both of which contain mercury—also cannot be overlooked as major sources of individual exposure to this neurotoxin.
Recent research6 has also shown that even low levels of lead are associated with lower reading-readiness scores in kindergarteners.7 In 2012, the CDC lowered the "safe" blood lead level from 10 mcg/dl to 5 mcg/dl. As a result, more children can now be diagnosed with lead toxicity, which has been linked to developmental problems and reduced IQ. Approximately half a million U.S. children between the ages of 1 and 5 have blood lead levels above 5 mcg/dl.
However, according to the latest findings, there does not appear to be ANY safe level of lead. Compared to children whose blood lead levels were below 0.5 mcg/dl, reading-readiness scores dropped four and a half points for children whose lead levels were between 5 and 9 mcg/dl, and 10 points for children whose levels were 10 mcg/dl.
Besides vaccines, certain drugs have also been implicated in autism. According to recent research,8 in utero exposure to antidepressants increases the risk of autism spectrum disorders in less than one percent of cases. This applied to both selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and non-selective monoamine reuptake inhibitors.
- Electromagnetic fields (EMF): These come not only from cell phones and cordless phones, but also from electrical outlets and Wi-Fi. According to some experts in the field, such as Dr. Klinghardt, EMF is "synergistically causal," partly because it potentiates the production of toxic microbes and endotoxins that have also been implicated in autism.
In fact, Dr. Klinghardt performed a small study showing that autism can actually be predicted based on the EMF levels of your sleeping quarters while pregnant. He found that if you sleep in strong electromagnetic fields during pregnancy, your child will likely begin to exhibit neurological abnormalities within the first two years of life.
- Vitamin D deficiency: 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 lack of appropriate sun exposure before and during pregnancy may be one of the largest contributing factors to 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.
- Poor gut health: While modern psychiatry still falsely claims that psychological problems such as depression are caused by a chemical imbalance in your brain, researchers keep finding that depression and a variety of behavioral problems actually appear to be linked to an imbalance of bacteria in your gut.
Certain species of gut bacteria have been found to influence gene activity in your brain,9 for example. Mice lacking gut bacteria have also been found to engage in "high-risk behavior." Using gene profiling, the researchers showed that absence of gut bacteria altered genes and signaling pathways involved in learning, memory, and motor control. This suggests that gut bacteria is closely tied to early brain development and subsequent behavior.
Your lifestyle can and does influence your gut flora on a daily basis. For example, your gut bacteria are extremely sensitive to antibiotics, chlorinated water, antibacterial soap, agricultural chemicals such as glyphosate, pollution.
Cultured or fermented foods have always been highly prized for their health benefits, which we now understand is linked to their probiotics content. The advent of processed foods dramatically altered the human diet, and we're now reaping the results in the form of rapidly rising chronic health problems.
I believe the shunning of traditionally fermented foods has a lot to do with the rise in mental and physical health problems. The culturing process produces beneficial microbes that are extremely important for your health as they help balance your intestinal flora. If you do not regularly consume traditionally fermented foods, a high-quality probiotic supplement will provide similar benefits.
- Hidden infections and Lyme Disease: Chronic infections like Lyme disease are extremely common in autistic children, and may even cause gene mutations or dysfunction. Typically, the child gets the disease not from a tick bite but from their mother, who may be a silent carrier of the illness. Major symptoms of Lyme disease in a child include hyperactivity, learning disorders, depression, early puberty, and slight delays in motor development.