Robert MacNeil, former anchor of the PBS program NewsHour, takes viewers on a visit with his 6-year-old autistic grandson, Nick, to see how autism affects the whole family.
In the video Nick's mother, Alison McNeil, states:
"... So we went from a 15-month appointment where this child was A-OK, supposedly, and given the MMR, the DTaP and the Hib vaccines. People say to me, Alison, it's a coincidence. Alison, how do you know this happened?
Well, it's impossible for me to know. But what I will say is this: It was not a coincidence that my child was diagnosed with autism at the same time that his whole system shut down. Something happened to my child."
When I was in medical school close to 30 years ago, the incidence of autism was about one in 10,000. Today, the incidence has conservatively increased to 1 in 63. But according to a brand new South Korean study published in the American Journal of Psychiatry earlier this month, autism may still be grossly under-diagnosed. In the first large-scale study of its kind, the researchers evaluated students in both special needs and regular elementary schools in the Ilsan district in South Korea. The authors estimate that as many as 1 in 38 South Korean children have some form of autism, and that the results would likely be similar in other countries.
Some experts have even suggested that if you consider the full range of neurological disorders that could logically be under the umbrella "Autism Spectrum Disorder," the incidence may be as high as 1 in 10.
Despite these outright shocking statistics, conventional medicine refuses to look at certain potential contributing factors, such as vaccines, which may be overloading the delicate systems of young children, leading to profound brain and immune system damage.
In the 1950's and 60's, autism was viewed by the medical community as a psychiatric disorder caused by "cold" mothers failing to love and nurture their babies properly. Then, as recently as a few years ago, the conventional view was that autism was primarily a genetic disorder. However, science has since shown that only 1 percent of autism cases are likely due to a genetic mutation. Meanwhile the causes of the remaining 99 percent are still unaccounted for.
Today, autism is generally viewed as a neuropsychiatric issue, but as Robert MacNeil discusses in the video above, this is a woefully inadequate view, as most autistic children also suffer with a range of physical health issues. For example, along with the classic neurological and behavioral symptoms of autism, his grandson, Nick, also has multiple physical ailments, including problems with his digestive system, mitochondrial dysfunction, and frequent brain seizures.
From my perspective, having had the opportunity to speak with a number of pioneering physicians, I believe there's a constellation of potential co-factors that contribute to the rise in autism and other developmental delays in children. Mercury exposure is not the only culprit. And the countless possible combinations of these co-factors could help explain why there's such a wide spectrum of physical and behavioral symptoms labeled by doctors as "autism."
A Classic Vaccine Damage Story
MacNeil's daughter Alison delivers a classic story of vaccine damage when recounting the development of her son, Nick. At 15 months, he checked out fine and was progressing normally. But as soon as he'd received the triple cocktail of MMR, DTaP and Hib vaccines, he began getting irritable, cried inconsolably, and started regressing developmentally.
In her words:
"It was not a coincidence that my child was diagnosed with autism at the same time that his whole system shut down. Something happened to my child."
This story has been told by so many parents at this point, the link between administration of vaccines and subsequent mental and physical deterioration must at least be given proper consideration. Unfortunately, public health authorities still claim there is "no scientifically valid" evidence that vaccines cause autism…
But is the evidence truly negative, or are they simply refusing to conduct methodologically sound studies and objectively evaluate the evidence? Is all the science really in, or are they doing everything they can to simply avoid filling in the huge gaps in the scientific understanding about all potential causes for the huge increases in brain and immune system dysfunction in children? Based on the evidence that already does exist, the latter appears to be true.
The Curious Link between Autism and Bowel Disorders
I've previously written about how your gut is literally your second brain. In addition to digesting your food, your gut has the ability to significantly influence your:
And there's also no shortage of evidence of gastrointestinal involvement in a variety of neurological diseases, including autism. In fact, gastrointestinal troubles are quite common among autistic children. In the case of Nick, his gastroenterologist, Dr. Timothy Buie, discovered Nick had lymphoid nodular hyperplacia; inflammation and damage in his lower intestine.
Dr. Buie is one of a number of physicians who are now beginning to view autism as a systemic illness, affecting the whole body, and not "just" a neurological disorder. In fact, he suggests that some of the "acting out" could be a sign of physical discomfort, such as gastrointestinal pain, in addition to neurological dysfunction.
According to Michael Gershon, chairman of the Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology at New York–Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center; a neurogastroenterology expert and author of The Second Brain, the same genes that make synapses form in your brain are also involved in the formation of synapses in your gut.
Hence, if these genes are affected in autism, this could be yet another explanation for why so many autistic kids suffer GI abnormalities, and why so many of them have elevated levels of gut-produced serotonin in their blood.
A number of researchers have actually investigated this apparent connection between autism and bowel disease, but Dr. Andrew Wakefield is the most well-known. He's published about 130-140 peer-reviewed papers looking at the mechanism and cause of inflammatory bowel disease, and has extensively investigated the brain-bowel connection in the context of children with developmental disorders such as autism.
A large number of replication studies have also been performed around the world, confirming the curious link between brain disorders such as autism and gastrointestinal dysfunction. (For a list of more than 25 of those studies, please see this previous article.)
Gluten intolerance is also a frequent feature of autism, and many parents report improvement once their autistic children are placed on a strict gluten-free diet. Many autistic children also tend to improve when given probiotics, either in the form of fermented foods or probiotic supplements.
The Top Contributors to Autism
I've conducted a number of interviews with various experts on the topic of autism, and mercury exposure is by no means the sole potential contributing factor. In fact, although I strongly recommend limiting your exposure to mercury from all sources, placing all of the emphasis on mercury can be detrimental, as there are likely many other factors that contribute to the rise in autism.
For example, Dr. Dietrich Klinghardt MD, PhD, one of my early mentors and a pioneer in natural medicine, offers compelling arguments for the toxic origins of autism. One of the commonalities among many children with autism is that their pathways of detoxification have become overwhelmed by both man-made and microbial toxins. Additionally, children with autism may have a constant and preventable production of toxic substances within their own bodies.
The toxins that top this list include:
- Mercury and other metals, such as aluminum. The major routes of exposure include vaccines and eating contaminated seafood.
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. Thimerosal, which is added to many vaccines, has become a major source of mercury in children who, within their first two years, may have received a quantity of mercury that clearly exceeds safety guidelines.
Some doctors maintain that a subset of children have genetic variations, due to natural biodiversity within populations, that make them unable to efficiently excrete mercury from their bodies. One study has shown that many children with autism have higher levels of mercury in their hair than those who do not have autism.
Dr. Russell Blaylock has also written extensively on the subject of vaccine-induced autism, explaining the intricacies of how the brain of an infant can be severely damaged by excessive amounts of vaccines during its early developmental stages.
- Viruses and microbes, such as mold. Children with autism not only have overwhelmed detoxification pathways and often heavy metal toxicity, but, according to Dr. Klinghardt, they also have continuous toxin production in their body caused by toxic microbes.
Vaccines also contain numerous bioactive ingredients, including lab altered live viruses and killed bacteria, and foreign DNA and protein. And whereas some vaccine safety critics focus solely on the mercury preservatives in the vaccines as the main toxic ingredient, the fact that vaccines atypically manipulate the immune system is equally compelling. In this case, an abnormal immune reaction primes your immune system to react against your body's organs, as it creates chronic inflammation and "organ-specific" autoantibodies.
In the case of vaccine reactions that lead to chronic inflammation and autoimmunity, the organ in question is mainly your brain. However, gastrointestinal problems, such as "leaky gut" are also a common organ-specific ailment.
There is evidence for a causal relationship between measles virus antibodies stimulated by the live attenuated vaccine strain measles virus in the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine and anti-myelin basic protein (MBP), suggesting that exposure to the vaccine strain measles virus may trigger an autoimmune response that interferes with the development of myelin in some individuals. If myelin in your brain doesn't develop properly, nerve fibers won't work as they should, giving rise to brain abnormalities, which could be manifested as symptoms of autism.
Earlier this year, research was published that again linked the vaccine strain of the measles virus to bowel disease in children with regressive autism, so the vaccine virus can be linked to both the brain- and gut abnormalities exhibited by autistic children.
- Electromagnetic fields (EMF). This includes a variety of sources, from cell phones and cordless phones, to electrical wiring and Wi-Fi. Dr. Klinghardt considers EMF "synergistically causal," partly because it increases production of toxic microbes and endotoxins.
A fourth major contributor that has recently been discovered is also one of the easiest to remedy: vitamin D deficiency.
The link between rampant vitamin D deficiency in pregnant women and the proportionate jump in autism has been highlighted by Dr. John Cannell. Vitamin D receptors appear in a wide variety of brain tissue early in the fetal development, and activated vitamin D receptors increase nerve growth in your brain.
Dr. Cannell recently wrote me and told me his Vitamin D Council is starting a new free autism clinic in several weeks if everything falls into place, free vitamin D, free blood tests, and free clinic visits with him.
I believe vitamin D deficiency during pregnancy is a MAJOR contributing factor to autism, especially when you consider that vitamin D also helps in the detoxification of mercury! Without sufficient amounts of vitamin D, any subsequent toxic assaults on the infant—regardless of the source—will be further magnified.
Hence, one of the most important changes that could radically reduce the risk of autism is to make certain ALL pregnant women have their vitamin D levels normalized to 50-70 ng/ml.
Is Mitochondrial Dysfunction Triggering Autism?
Just like MacNeil's grandson, many autistic children also suffer mitochondrial dysfunction. But children with mitochondrial disorders may also be far more prone to vaccine damage. It appears to be a case of "which comes first?"—mitochondrial damage or autism?
You may recall the government's concession that childhood vaccines contributed to symptoms of autism in 9-year-old Hannah Poling. In her case, they found that vaccines "significantly aggravated an underlying mitochondrial disorder" and resulted in a brain disorder "with features of autism spectrum disorder."
Mitochondria are the powerhouses in your body's cells that produce energy. Stopping short of admitting a direct link between autism and vaccines, they instead admitted that vaccines might endanger children who have a "rare" dysfunction in their mitochondria. The problem with that stance is that "mitochondrial dysfunction" doesn't appear to be all that rare... As many as one in 50 children may be at risk for mitochondrial dysfunction, according to experts' estimates.
But is it possible that what the government is calling a "rare dysfunction" is actually a common response to numerous environmental assaults?
Independent of a true genetic issue, ANY child's mitochondria can be taxed to a point that "predisposes" them to developing autism. Numerous toxic agents are known to damage mitochondria, including:
Mercury/ thimerosal Aluminum Pollution Pesticides Medications Prenatal alcohol exposure
Even the standard American diet, so full of inflammatory foods like fructose and refined grains has been blamed for "making this mutated gene become more pathogenic."
Well, the vast majority of infants are exposed not only to pollution, excessive amounts of toxic sugar and fructose, but also to medications (often before they're even a year old). So it seems prudent to expect that nearly everyone may have stressed mitochondria that, upon even more assaults from vaccines and other environmental triggers, could theoretically increase their risk of autism.
Helpful Strategies for Autistic Children
Based on my own experience and insight from many autism experts, here are my recommendations:
- Eliminate sugar (particularly fructose) and grains from your child's diet: Sugar is in fact toxic to your body, capable of causing profound harm to your health. This includes ALL forms of sugar, whether it's regular table sugar or corn-based sweeteners like high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), honey, or agave, and whether it's found in juice, soda, French fries, or grain products (such as pasta, bagels, cereal, pretzels, etc).
- Avoid pasteurized milk. This is absolutely imperative when you're treating autism. This includes ALL milk products, including ice cream, yogurt and even whey. Even natural flavorings in food must be avoided unless the processor can guarantee, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that caseinate is not included.
- Tailor your child's diet to their nutritional type for optimal health, and focus on whole, organic foods. In my experience, nearly ALL children seem to respond favorably to the dietary changes when properly implemented.
- Optimize vitamin D levels through proper sun exposure.
- Lower microbial burden: 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 is that the biotoxins produced by the infection compete for the same detoxification pathways as do other toxins, like mercury and pesticides, and so on.
Make your child's body less of an optimal habitat for microbial overgrowth through dietary changes (less starch and sugar at minimum) and lowering overall stress. Also, consider testing for mold (in your home) and Lyme (in their body) but only after "provocation treatment."
- Lower toxic burdens: Avoid exposure to as many environmental toxins as you can, such as pesticides, herbicides, and sources of mercury, aluminum and fluoride. Also do whatever you can to establish a mold, dust, and smell-free environment for your whole family, followed by a comprehensive detoxification program. Please remember hidden toxins like fluoride and look carefully evaluate all cleaning products in your home.
- Reduce EMF exposure: Exposure to electromagnetic fields from cell phones, electrical wiring and Wi-Fi may significantly add to the problem because when toxic microbes in your body are exposed to electromagnetic fields, they respond as if they're being attacked, and start producing even more biotoxins in an attempt to prolong their survival.
- Use an effective intervention to address any emotional stresses as soon as possible – avoid having destructive thoughts and letting emotions fester. Potent energy psychology tools such as the Emotional Freedom Technique are excellent for this purpose.
- Carefully review the vaccination issue, including the conventional vaccination schedule. Know that in most U.S. states you have the right to opt out of vaccines.
- Homeopathy may also help ameliorate some symptoms of brain- and immune system dysfunction suffered by children labeled as "autistic."
In closing, remember there's tremendous hope for children who have the constellation of symptoms associated with autism. I have made it one of my goals to provide parents with a range of cutting-edge information that will help them find solutions to caring for their children safely and effectively.