Organic Consumers Association

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Connecting the Dots Between Autism and Your Health

For related articles and more information, please visit OCA's Health Resources page and our Children's Health page.

The state of science on all industrial outputs that contribute to health risk is nowhere near what it needs to be. The reason? Whether it’s fracking or GMOs or other novel toxins, government regulators tend to rely for safety studies on the very industries that proffer these toxins. And that includes medical industry products, aka drugs, treatments, and perhaps even vaccinations.

The Scientific Void

Many toxic ingredients are never studied at all. Nor does science look into what specifically happens when people are exposed to many different chemicals over time. A new study conducted by the Harvard School of Public Health finds increased incidence of autism in babies born to families exposed to high air pollution (as measured by the EPA).

This study is the tip of the iceberg, revealing that what we don’t know about toxic exposures is hurting our children. This research published in the June 2013 edition of  Environmental Health Perspectives is an important link in an emerging chain of scientific evidence. But it’s just a beginning. Children with autism and their families deal with this severe health challenge in a near void of science. And they are not the only ones who can’t get their minds around the range of pollutant contributing to health issues.

Most diseases, like cancer, come on gradually and imperceptibly over time, making it impossible to connect a toxic exposure to a specific symptom or disease. This makes it harder for most people to fully grasp how toxins undermine health across the board. Autism is clearly the exception. In autism, often parents report health problems springing up immediately following vaccination.  

Unfortunately, science isn’t very far ahead of the average person. When a toxin, heavy metal or endocrine disrupter interacts with a baby’s biology in utero, infancy, or early childhood, the effects can be more far-reaching and ongoing than what an exposed adult might experience. Just as a plant seedling sends out a tiny tendril that evolves into stem, root, leaf and flower, so do tiny humans grow and specialize their parts, systems and functions most intensively in the earliest years of life. At least from conception, outside outputs can and do regularly enter and intervene in that biological evolution.

Whether it’s pesticides in grain, hormones in dairy, fracking chemicals seeping into water supplies, volatile organic compounds in the air, endocrine disrupters in personal care, or as the Harvard researchers found diesel, particulate matter and mercury from nearby traffic, a range of material outputs skew or derail the child’s delicate growth process.

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