It was only a matter of time until we unlocked the true cause of autism. Let’s face it — there’s no way we could have drastically changed the odds from one in 30,000 children to one in 700 in just one generation, unless we were doing something to influence it.
Recently, scientists have just uncovered the first biomarker evidence that autism is linked to DDT (dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane) — a colorless, tasteless, and almost odorless chemical compound developed as an insecticide.
Of course, DDT was banned in this country in 1972 — after 1.35 billion pounds were applied to our soils. In fact, India is the only country that still uses DDT today.
However, DDT and other organic pollutants persist in our food chain. Meaning we are still exposed to it today, long after it was banned. And the fact is, these kinds of chemicals transfer across the placenta, resulting in prenatal exposure.
What are the odds?
This new study was conducted by the Finnish Prenatal Study of Autism, and published in the American Journal of Psychiatry. Researchers identified 778 children born with autism between 1987 and 2005. Maternal blood specimens from early pregnancy were examined for levels of DDE (dichlorodiphenyldichloroethylene), a breakdown product of DDT.
They used this marker of DDE in the blood to assess the increased risk of autism among the participating children, and here’s what they found:
- The odds of autism were nearly one third higher among offspring of mothers with DDE levels in the 75th percentile.
- The odds of autism with intellectual disability had a two-fold increase with maternal DDE levels above the 75th percentile.
This study was meticulously performed, and other risk factors that increase risk of autism — like parents’ age and family history of psychiatric illness — were also taken into account.
This is the first study that gives us a glimpse into how autism might develop from a prenatal exposure to toxins. And the researchers say it could have policy implications for public health regarding testing for — and minimizing exposure to — environmental pollutants.
I won’t hold my breath for that. We know how slow major change occurs in this country — especially when it comes to cracking down on Big Business…and the chemical industry is one of the biggest there is.
But it does serve as a wake-up call to all of us to do what we can to keep these poisons to a minimum in our own daily lives.
Fear of the future
Even though DDT has been banned, we can’t think about these chemicals in the past tense. Shockingly, the average newborn in the U.S. has over 700 chemicals in their umbilical cord at birth. These chemicals don’t go away. They remain in our environment, our blood, and our tissues.
And that’s how they get passed along to a developing fetus.
How ironic is that? American women won’t touch a sip of alcohol, eat a can of tuna, or enjoy a sliver of brie because they’re all considered “bad for the baby.” But how many pregnant women eat non-organic foods riddled with pesticides — without even thinking twice about it?
We live in a terrible, toxic world. Our past mistakes are coming back to haunt us. But there are things you can do to protect yourself.
Your 3-step plan for safeguarding yourself — and your family — from toxins
1) Be smart about the foods you eat.
Unfortunately, as I mentioned on Tuesday, “organic” and “non-GMO” labels aren’t a foolproof way to ensure your food is chemical-free.
I recommend buying local or growing your own. It’s the perfect time of year to find a good farmer’s market nearby. There, you can ask questions directly to the people involved in growing the food and bringing it to market.
2) Detox quarterly. There’s simply no way to avoid exposure to chemicals completely. So I recommend regular detoxes to clear out the toxins that have already inevitably accumulated in your system. In fact, I recommend detoxing quarterly (twice a year at minimum). And considering the indulgences of summer have ended, this the perfect time of year to do one.
For the specific detox plan I give my patients, refer back to the September 2013 issue of my monthly Logical Health Alternatives newsletter. (“Two weeks to a leaner, cleaner body”). Simply visit www.DrPescatore.com and log in to the Subscriber section with your username and password to access this article from the full archive. (Not a subscriber? No problem. Click here to learn more or get started today.)
Of course, you should talk to your doctor before starting this or any detox regimen. And don’t stop taking any medications you’re on. However, you should be forewarned: Most mainstream physicians likely don’t have a clue about detoxing. So don’t expect much in the way of brilliant feedback.
I suggest working with a naturopathic physician if you’re undertaking any serious detox regimen. I recommend consulting, the American College for Advancement in Medicine to find a doctor near you. Just log on to their website, www.acam.org, and click on the “Search” section.
3) Support your gut. You should be taking a quality, multi-strain probiotic supplement every day. Probiotics not only populate your gut with good bacteria to aid in digestion; they also help your liver detoxify and boost your immune system — both of which are essential in protecting your body against toxins.
I recommend Dr. Ohirra’s formulation. Simply take two a day to support your gut health.