3

votes

Hack the autism increase in the past decade?

Answered on September 12, 2014
Created March 29, 2012 at 7:20 PM

The CDC just put out that there has been an 78% increase in US kids with Autism. If you are looking at that number in terms of increased rate of disease or something like that, the increase is scary. However, I wonder how much of this increase is more due to identification and better tracking as it is mentioned at the end of the article. Though I can't discard the possibility that this increase is also effected by the continued decrease in food quality, the increased use of baby formula, and the overuse of medication and vaccinations. FYI....I'm not anti-vaccination, but I do feel that vaccinations like the flu vaccine is unnecessary and overused. Also, one would wonder that if the aforementioned things mentioned have effected this increase, why boys are almost 50% more likely to have autism.

I have read blogs and have listen to podcasts focus on the relationship between the proper development of the digestive system beginning at infancy, possibly even as early as pre-birth development, and the number of mental and physical problems that have increased over the years, including autism. We all know the problems that can arise from a leaky gut in adults. Well what if an infant is not afforded the opportunity to properly develop their gut and immune system through the breastfeeding process, but instead use milk, soy, or protein hydrolysate based formulas, that are altered to "resemble" breast milk and contain fillers and artificial vitamins and minerals. Additionally, I think it is safe to say that the average american infant moves from these formulas straight into the SAD diet or something worse. From personal experience and anecdotal evidence I have read, I can confidently conclude that a number of children suffer from digestive issues, like GERD, colic, reflux, etc, partially by beginning life on formula. So if a child begins life with a leaky gut or something similar, couldn't one hypothesis that diet maybe a major reason for these autoimmune disease increases in young children including autims?

And if you want to address the issue of why boys are showing a more likely event of autism, I guess one could argue that the overuse of soy products in formula and our foods may increase the risk in boys. I remember reading something Sally Fallon wrote regarding anecdotal evidence showing that very often the consumption of soy with boys can create extreme emotional behavior and learning disabilities.

I understand that most of what I have concluded on is based on anecdotal evidence, but I think we can all agree on a few things: 1) Breastfeeding is the best option for infant development 2) Soy and soy by-products are unhealthy to consume and 3) Leaky Gut can be a major contributor to autoimmune disease and other health issues. With all that said, is there a basis to relate post birth nutrition to the 78% increase in autism over the past decade or is it just our ability to identify and track the problem?

Add2c0ce1ddf585c5057c3c0e7ca1a43

on April 18, 2012
at 02:06 AM

and there is no evidence to substantiate this claim

3eca93d2e56dfcd768197dc5a50944f2

(11697)

on April 17, 2012
at 04:08 AM

I've read a lot of reports of autistic kids following the SCD/GAPS diets back in the day (similar to Paleo, but with probiotic dairy), to the point that they're fully functional as independent people today, while they wouldn't even speak before the diet change. So I think that diet DOES help immensely AS LONG AS the kid is still young. The older they are, the less the body can fix itself via a diet.

2a0f1afde303eadc422d015fc22f7512

(1118)

on April 02, 2012
at 05:58 PM

the increased prevalenec is pretty new and there's no way our genetics have mutated that fast. It's something we're doing to ourselves.

Ce41c230e8c2a4295db31aec3ef4b2ab

(32564)

on April 02, 2012
at 03:57 PM

Progesterone has a neuro-protective effect by reducing inflammation & I imagine that the higher relative amounts of progesterone in the female body may be protecting the brain and creating the disparity of autism diagnoses between genders. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2699575/

Ce41c230e8c2a4295db31aec3ef4b2ab

(32564)

on April 02, 2012
at 03:54 PM

Progesterone has a neuro-protective effect by reducing inflammation & I imagine that the higher relative amounts of progesterone in the female body may make be the main difference.

518bce04b12cd77741237e1f61075194

(11577)

on April 01, 2012
at 01:06 AM

This doesn't really add to the conversation, it's just a blanket statement. Not an argument.

518bce04b12cd77741237e1f61075194

(11577)

on April 01, 2012
at 12:16 AM

Really? Someone down voted this? Could you at least tell me why?

Ce41c230e8c2a4295db31aec3ef4b2ab

(32564)

on April 01, 2012
at 12:09 AM

And children who are autistic from birth vs. those who regress seem to be given the same diagnosis, when perhaps there are different things going on...

Ce41c230e8c2a4295db31aec3ef4b2ab

(32564)

on March 31, 2012
at 11:00 PM

Personally, I've seen a huge increase (I work with new moms) and I don't think it's just better diagnostics... I'm almost 50, so perhaps I have a different perspective.

E751dbb140aecc9479b9248891edf584

(101)

on March 31, 2012
at 10:06 PM

There amount of people with autism is not increasing. It's just diagnosed more commonly. Big difference.

518bce04b12cd77741237e1f61075194

(11577)

on March 30, 2012
at 08:48 PM

There are therapies and interventions that, when done early, have shown a great effect on children with ASD to assist their development. That is not being argued. I think just in this original comment, I agree with the sentiment that so many kids who have ASD are taking a million and one radical interventions, most of which are completely ineffective. So I'm not saying "let it be"- I'm saying that most of the interventions are overkill and unscientific, which is the number one problem. Some are effective, most are not. Which is why I agreed with the original comment.

518bce04b12cd77741237e1f61075194

(11577)

on March 30, 2012
at 08:45 PM

Also, that book is based on the requirement that there HAS been a massive increase in ASD in the past few decades (which there is no evidence there has been- again, diagnoses means we are actively looking for ASD which we weren't before). I haven't read it, but I've skimmed the back, and it doesn't look like it addresses that there is a known genetic link for autism. It's not "is it genetic" anymore, we know that is a large component.

518bce04b12cd77741237e1f61075194

(11577)

on March 30, 2012
at 08:42 PM

@Dragonfly, I know you meant it as just a way to manage the symptoms of autism, I still just tense up when people tell me they can "cure" it. I used to have asthma throughout childhood too, as well as a heart condition, and I know that my life was VERY different after I sorted them out- I had way less anxiety, was able to go places w/o being in fear etc. I still think this cannot be likened to "lifting" autism from a person. Autism is the way you view the world: my brother asks "was that okay?" after introducing himself, b/c he expresses himself in a fundamentally different way than most.

Add2c0ce1ddf585c5057c3c0e7ca1a43

on March 30, 2012
at 08:32 PM

Hey dragonfly - I'm not saying that dietary changes can't have effects on "some behaviour" , but this is not restricted to autism, nor does "some behaviour" define autism. It's just about being specific and measuring exactly what behaviour we are talking about, using a method that is scientifically sound.

Add2c0ce1ddf585c5057c3c0e7ca1a43

on March 30, 2012
at 08:29 PM

Re: the increase. I don't think there is necessarily an increase, just more knowledge, and more funding attached to diagnoses...

Add2c0ce1ddf585c5057c3c0e7ca1a43

on March 30, 2012
at 08:28 PM

Sorry about the "soapbox". I certainly don't think that diets should not be modified...I'm paleo after all, but making extremely radical changes to diets can interfere with other "effective treatments". I would just want to encourage parents to get the evidence-based treatment first, and then, carefully explore, using data the effects of additive treatments.

Medium avatar

(4878)

on March 30, 2012
at 06:13 PM

Bravo! YES!! My dad is one of these Aspies...born in 1930, graduated from HS at 14 ...went on to multiple degrees in Math, Physics, and Computer Science. I often wonder what would have happened if he hadn't been an only child and been carefully cultured by my very educated grandma. Socially awkward, yes...incredibly intuitive...even more so. I miss him, now that he is cloaked in Parkinson's and Alzheimer's. There is no one who could cut through the BS as clearly as he.

Bf57bcbdc19d4f1728599053acd020ab

(5043)

on March 30, 2012
at 04:12 PM

No, but it sounds really intriguing. I've never heard of the "neuro-immune" system before. Mental illness in general is such a black box thing. Most treatments are a shot in the dark. It would be great to find a causal mechanism for these things, and some way to treat them. But it would be too bad if everyone was "normal" - even if it would make life a hell of a lot easier.

Ce41c230e8c2a4295db31aec3ef4b2ab

(32564)

on March 30, 2012
at 02:35 PM

And JennyJ~ It's not that I think "therapies" should be pushed on families, but I have a close friend whose grandson has just been diagnosed at 2 and she asked me for support & resources, so I have been doing some research. *If* most autism is curable, when caught early enough, then I would certainly want to know this, if I had a child with autistic spectrum.

Ce41c230e8c2a4295db31aec3ef4b2ab

(32564)

on March 30, 2012
at 02:25 PM

Have you seen this book? http://www.amazon.com/The-Myth-Autism-Misunderstood-Destroying/dp/1616081716/ref=cm_cr_pr_product_top

Ce41c230e8c2a4295db31aec3ef4b2ab

(32564)

on March 30, 2012
at 02:23 PM

"I think anyone who says they've "cured" autism, probably was just misdiagnosed. It's hard to change the shape and basic functioning of a brain." Have you read this book? http://www.amazon.com/The-Myth-Autism-Misunderstood-Destroying/dp/1616081716/ref=cm_cr_pr_product_top

Ce41c230e8c2a4295db31aec3ef4b2ab

(32564)

on March 30, 2012
at 02:20 PM

"W/o asthma, you are still the same person" Not my experience at all. My whole personality changed when I had a temporary remission in my teens and no longer had to be careful not to overexert and could keep up in sports. I shifted from book-worm to athlete.

518bce04b12cd77741237e1f61075194

(11577)

on March 30, 2012
at 01:07 PM

We ate no soy, no wheat, lots of seafood, tons of lamb, no plastic bags/saran, no tin foil. My little brother was breast fed for 2 years, me and my older brother were breast fed for a year. My older brother and I were diagnosed with Aspberger's, the diagnoses was dropped when they changed the criteria. My little brother is autistic. Can't say it's everything, waaay over simplification.

Ae3b7ea9f3755af32287825db8d98796

(2022)

on March 30, 2012
at 12:22 PM

"A child who is labeled as highly functioning Asperger's today may have been labeled the shy, awkward kid in school as little as 35 years ago." Gosh, I'd say as little as 15 years ago! I'm sure everyone here can think of the kid in school who was shy and socially awkward. I knew a boy who I am positive had some sort of ASD, but I suppose I would have no way of knowing if he was ever diagnosed.

C56baa1b4f39839c018180bf63226f7d

(3499)

on March 30, 2012
at 03:49 AM

Thanks all. If I didn't have a reason to move to Australia before...

518bce04b12cd77741237e1f61075194

(11577)

on March 30, 2012
at 12:49 AM

Managing food sensitivities, digestive discomfort, nutritional deficiencies, family unrest, and supporting the development/maintenance of coping skills will certainly mean a happier child, and that means happier parents. My brothers life is MUCH easier after we realized he was lactose intolerant- being bloated made him very grumpy, and he was ashamed and angry he sometimes had accidents that other kids his age wouldn't have had. That being said, I think anyone who says they've "cured" autism, probably was just misdiagnosed. It's hard to change the shape and basic functioning of a brain.

518bce04b12cd77741237e1f61075194

(11577)

on March 30, 2012
at 12:46 AM

I totally get that it's individual, and I'm all about managing any of the aspects of the condition that cause a lot of stress for the children AND parents. It just is hard, in my family's experience you get attacked from every side with people pelting you with products and therapies. Because autism is such a huge part of the way someone thinks/views the world/interacts with the world, it is a much more sensitive issue. W/o asthma, you are still the same person, but w/o autism, you have to change the way you fundamentally think and interact with the world.

Aa69579f867333b08158c70e25f7daf1

(1826)

on March 29, 2012
at 11:45 PM

We eat no soy, and I breastfeed for at least a year, then let kiddos wean when they want afterward. We have our toddler on a lacto-paleo diet, heavy on meats and vegetables with some fruit. No plastic food containers. The husband works in genetics, and he's convinced this is absolutely necessary. I don't argue, because he doesn't mind when I spend more on food as a result of these rules. :-)

Ce41c230e8c2a4295db31aec3ef4b2ab

(32564)

on March 29, 2012
at 11:20 PM

And, having "cured" my so-called incurable asthma with EFT and Vitamin D supplementation, I am so glad I didn't buy into the "incurable" story. That said, Autism is not life-threatening, in most cases. If people are happy to live with it, great! But I can completely understand the parents who try everything. I have a friend with an autistic daughter who needs 24/7 care and I have seen the challenges for both of them. It's so individual, you know?

Ce41c230e8c2a4295db31aec3ef4b2ab

(32564)

on March 29, 2012
at 11:14 PM

I think that the younger the child is, the more helpful any dietary interventions may be. All the anecdotal stories I have read where the parents say they have "cured" their child's autism, have been with children under 7 years old.

6984d31d0c639b4f470dc7ae15783929

(160)

on March 29, 2012
at 11:13 PM

Hadoken, here is a link to an abstract. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17920208?dopt=Citation

Ce41c230e8c2a4295db31aec3ef4b2ab

(32564)

on March 29, 2012
at 11:11 PM

Just a quickie find: http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=vitamin-d-and-autism

518bce04b12cd77741237e1f61075194

(11577)

on March 29, 2012
at 10:58 PM

@Dragonfly I think that the taking of supplements refers to the "autism business" most parents get swept up in, which can include many risky and expensive things that claim to "fix" autism. Certainly keeping a child healthy, which can include Vit. D supplementation and a healthy diet/gut, is a great idea, but you see a lot of kids taking soooooo many different things and giving false hopes of a "cure".

C56baa1b4f39839c018180bf63226f7d

(3499)

on March 29, 2012
at 10:21 PM

Do you have a chart/graph/study link for that, Kelly? Because you. just. blew. my. mind.

518bce04b12cd77741237e1f61075194

(11577)

on March 29, 2012
at 09:45 PM

"New medical mysteries": it's not actually new. There have long been "idiot savants", "children of the wild", and often features in freak shows for as long as civilization has been recording. Autistic persons were probably a sizable portion of all asylums right up until the 1940's.

518bce04b12cd77741237e1f61075194

(11577)

on March 29, 2012
at 09:40 PM

Thanks Jaych! I think a lot of those therapies don't just border on abuse, they are downright torture! And the people giving the therapies just treat the kids like they can't feel anything, or hear them, or understand what is going on around them. It is horribly dehumanizing and disrespectful. I feel so much for parents that get coerced into this "autism business", and for the long-term effects these treatments can have on kids. Makes me tear up thinking about it :(

C79a5b43dfc5749200bd9dcaa6bb0858

on March 29, 2012
at 09:37 PM

wannabehealthy, so what is your reasoning for the increase?? You didn't really answer the question, just got on a soap box.

C79a5b43dfc5749200bd9dcaa6bb0858

on March 29, 2012
at 09:33 PM

hemanvt, can you link to a site or study or something? Thanks.

4b05d725a8332e8e917a4ca58b6e8a1e

(1239)

on March 29, 2012
at 09:25 PM

Thank you so much for your perspective. I mean that. I used to work as a one-on-one with a very low-functioning autistic boy whose parents were constantly trying new medications, diets, treatments, and behavior therapies (some that bordered on abuse, in my opinion) to "fix" him. He never needed to be fixed. Sure, his symptoms needed management (he had to learn that he couldn't get away with pitching a fit every time something didn't go his way), but there was nothing about him that needed curing. Absolutely heartbreaking what he had to go through.

Ce41c230e8c2a4295db31aec3ef4b2ab

(32564)

on March 29, 2012
at 09:18 PM

I have read enough anecdotal reports of dietary changes (including Vitamin D supplementation) affecting the behavior of children diagnosed as autistic to question your assertion. If the diagnosis is incorrect, fine, but I think it is not very helpful to discourage parents from making dietary changes when they *do* help with their child's behavior.

Ce41c230e8c2a4295db31aec3ef4b2ab

(32564)

on March 29, 2012
at 09:08 PM

@ Kelly--Indeed.

F0e558010a2ecb31fa37b7c491596b8e

(3850)

on March 29, 2012
at 09:06 PM

The correlation between autism and relative distance to the equator (and therefore to "natural" vitamin D levels) is staggering.

518bce04b12cd77741237e1f61075194

(11577)

on March 29, 2012
at 08:59 PM

It should be noted for the M/F aspect, diagnostic criteria was set up based on almost exclusive studying of males, which means that females are very under diagnosed. Still probably more males than females, but females are likely to be diagnosed with anxiety etc. It can also manifest differently: eating disorders are more common, and social mimicry is generally more successful in females, which can hide the condition for a long time.

518bce04b12cd77741237e1f61075194

(11577)

on March 29, 2012
at 08:57 PM

GREAT point, females are way-way under diagnosed with ASD because it can (but doesn't have to) look very different than males in a lot of cases, and diagnostic criteria was set out only for males. Females have higher rates of eating disorders, particularly anorexia (obsession with categorizing, organizing, restrictive behavior), and tend to do better at "mimicry" when it comes to socializing than their male counterparts.

22212e9ba2a041e6da6c963d4d41615a

(5773)

on March 29, 2012
at 08:30 PM

I was more posting regarding infancy diet effecting the cause not for treatment.

4b05d725a8332e8e917a4ca58b6e8a1e

(1239)

on March 29, 2012
at 08:22 PM

By treatment, I meant treating the disorder in general, not specific cases.

Add2c0ce1ddf585c5057c3c0e7ca1a43

on March 29, 2012
at 08:20 PM

It is not difficult to assign a treatment. Applied Behavior Analysis in early intervention has been an evidence-based treatment for children with autism for over 30 years.

78cb3c4f70de5db2adb52b6b9671894b

(5519)

on March 29, 2012
at 08:00 PM

Beautifully put.

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14 Answers

17
518bce04b12cd77741237e1f61075194

(11577)

on March 29, 2012
at 08:54 PM

Just wanted to point out your terminology that the rise in autism is a "increased rate of disease" is misleading, because autism is a neurological condition/disorder, not a malady or sickness like, say, hepatitis or something. Calling autism a disease is a something a lot of people do, and I think it really pathologizes autism into being something that can and should be fixed. Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) covers a very wide net over social interactions, communication, and restrictive/repetitive behavior. The diagnostic criteria has changed over the years (ex: I was diagnosed with Aspberger's in elementary school, when it was a new category, but was removed from the category in high school because the criteria is different now). I think that's why you get a lot of people who were maybe considered "oddballs" in the 80's, but then we hit the 90's and started recognizing that it was a shared neurological condition that causes these traits.

We have to be careful when we talk about autism to NOT tar the parents, or insult those who have ASD (not "suffering", have). My little brother is autistic, and it is horrifying what my mum has been told by other parents, nurses, even doctors, and naturopaths (the WORST, at least the one my mum went to, she left humiliated and in tears). My mother has been told that she didn't socialize my brother properly, that she used to much antibiotic soap, that by getting an emergency C-section she did this to him, that she didn't feed him properly (an nearly all meat-seafood-vegetable-rice diet), that she shouldn't have vaccinated him (already been disproved, move on), that maybe breastfeeding him for 2 years (2 whole years!) wasn't long enough, that she ignored him as a baby, that she was a cold mother, that she should have taken probiotics, and, most of all, that she could just "fix him" if she only did "____" treatment! She's had people walk up to her and say she shouldn't have kept her son in such a sterile environment (we grew up on a farm). Random strangers will tell her she HAS to give him these vitamins, and then he will just stop being autistic like magic!

Now that my brother is old enough, and communicative enough, he can talk for himself. He has become more and more high functioning, after an initially very slow development. He is one of the rare folks who has a photographic memory, which is pretty amazing to experience (you should see him learn languages! He's trying to learn Latin right now). He still has some issues, he is overwhelmed by big crowds, loud noises, and stressful situations (birthdays, Christmas etc). He smells things to manage his anxiety, and tries to tease apart the components of the different smells (if anyone leaves a jacket at our house, we can just get him to smell it and he knows who's it is!). He has the occasional full-fit meltdown, which can be very intimidating if you don't know him as he is now a 170 lb 19 year old. He has very sensitive feelings and cries easily. He is really, really fascinated by animals, especially cats.

We are really, really close, ever since I had been initially diagnosed with Asperger's (then later had it dropped, and side note, my older brother had the exact same situation). We've talked about what HE wants people to know about ASD, and it boils down to a single demand: he does not want to be fixed. He does want to be able to manage the unpleasant aspects of his condition, including the anxiety and emotional outbursts, and that are many techniques and methods to cope and improve his comfort so he can lead a more "normal" life. But at the end of the day, being autistic is a huge part of who he IS as a person. He wrote an essay in high school (he's not a big writer, so it was a big project) called "If I wasn't autistic" under the promptings of the school counselor, and in the essay he basically boils it down to the fact that if he wasn't autistic, he would not be who he is. He wouldn't even be close.

I always feel the need to remind people (in a very long-winded manner, haha, sorry about that, get a little passionate) of the point of view held by people who ARE autistic and their families, because otherwise we risk talking about trying to "scourge" these "damaged children" without really understading that, at the end of the day, their brain just works a little differently. I don't mean to glamorize autism, or make it sound like a walk in the park that everyone should have a crack at, but I just want to remind people to stay respectful in your speculations.

518bce04b12cd77741237e1f61075194

(11577)

on April 01, 2012
at 12:16 AM

Really? Someone down voted this? Could you at least tell me why?

4b05d725a8332e8e917a4ca58b6e8a1e

(1239)

on March 29, 2012
at 09:25 PM

Thank you so much for your perspective. I mean that. I used to work as a one-on-one with a very low-functioning autistic boy whose parents were constantly trying new medications, diets, treatments, and behavior therapies (some that bordered on abuse, in my opinion) to "fix" him. He never needed to be fixed. Sure, his symptoms needed management (he had to learn that he couldn't get away with pitching a fit every time something didn't go his way), but there was nothing about him that needed curing. Absolutely heartbreaking what he had to go through.

518bce04b12cd77741237e1f61075194

(11577)

on March 29, 2012
at 09:40 PM

Thanks Jaych! I think a lot of those therapies don't just border on abuse, they are downright torture! And the people giving the therapies just treat the kids like they can't feel anything, or hear them, or understand what is going on around them. It is horribly dehumanizing and disrespectful. I feel so much for parents that get coerced into this "autism business", and for the long-term effects these treatments can have on kids. Makes me tear up thinking about it :(

9
4b05d725a8332e8e917a4ca58b6e8a1e

(1239)

on March 29, 2012
at 07:52 PM

I know how tempting it can be to hypothesize that we can fix autism spectrum disorders with diet and lifestyle (and, to be sure, proper diet would help enormously in general), but I think we need to be aware of the whole picture. This increase is due in large part to greater awareness of autism spectrum disorders, a very broad definition of what exactly constitutes ASDs, and increased reporting. Until we learn what exactly causes these disorders, it's difficult to assign a treatment. A child who is labeled as highly functioning Asperger's today may have been labeled the shy, awkward kid in school as little as 35 years ago. So we have to figure out if this increase a true increase in prevalence or if it's just a matter of more sophisticated diagnosis. That's not to say that there ISN'T an increase, but we just need to be aware of what other factors may be at play here.

78cb3c4f70de5db2adb52b6b9671894b

(5519)

on March 29, 2012
at 08:00 PM

Beautifully put.

4b05d725a8332e8e917a4ca58b6e8a1e

(1239)

on March 29, 2012
at 08:22 PM

By treatment, I meant treating the disorder in general, not specific cases.

Add2c0ce1ddf585c5057c3c0e7ca1a43

on March 29, 2012
at 08:20 PM

It is not difficult to assign a treatment. Applied Behavior Analysis in early intervention has been an evidence-based treatment for children with autism for over 30 years.

Ae3b7ea9f3755af32287825db8d98796

(2022)

on March 30, 2012
at 12:22 PM

"A child who is labeled as highly functioning Asperger's today may have been labeled the shy, awkward kid in school as little as 35 years ago." Gosh, I'd say as little as 15 years ago! I'm sure everyone here can think of the kid in school who was shy and socially awkward. I knew a boy who I am positive had some sort of ASD, but I suppose I would have no way of knowing if he was ever diagnosed.

6
Ce41c230e8c2a4295db31aec3ef4b2ab

(32564)

on March 29, 2012
at 07:36 PM

I think it is multi-factorial.

In addition to what you have already mentioned there are many medicalised pregnancy & birth practices that are not evidence-based:

The use and increase in ultrasounds during pregnancy.

The rise in C-sections.

The rise in epidurals, pitocin and other drugs during labor.

The rise in inductions, (not letting baby initiate labor) resulting in more premature births.

The rise in antibiotic use in labor (due to Group B Strep screening.)

The rise in vitamin-D deficient Moms (and therefore D-deficient babies.)

All of these interventions are creating stress on Moms & babies that never was a regular part of our birth process until about 50-60 years ago.

ETA: I forgot to mention immediate umbilical cord clamping, which is still standard hospital protocol even though it has been shown to have a negative impact on babies' development.

6984d31d0c639b4f470dc7ae15783929

(160)

on March 29, 2012
at 11:13 PM

Hadoken, here is a link to an abstract. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17920208?dopt=Citation

Ce41c230e8c2a4295db31aec3ef4b2ab

(32564)

on March 29, 2012
at 09:08 PM

@ Kelly--Indeed.

Ce41c230e8c2a4295db31aec3ef4b2ab

(32564)

on March 29, 2012
at 11:11 PM

Just a quickie find: http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=vitamin-d-and-autism

C56baa1b4f39839c018180bf63226f7d

(3499)

on March 30, 2012
at 03:49 AM

Thanks all. If I didn't have a reason to move to Australia before...

F0e558010a2ecb31fa37b7c491596b8e

(3850)

on March 29, 2012
at 09:06 PM

The correlation between autism and relative distance to the equator (and therefore to "natural" vitamin D levels) is staggering.

C56baa1b4f39839c018180bf63226f7d

(3499)

on March 29, 2012
at 10:21 PM

Do you have a chart/graph/study link for that, Kelly? Because you. just. blew. my. mind.

4
7841848bd0c27c64353c583fb7971242

(7275)

on March 29, 2012
at 07:54 PM

Part of the problem is the rise in bisphenol A (BPA) and other endocrine disrupters, linoleic acid, and other substances that interfere with GAP-43 expression (including inflammation).

From an excellent study done on post-mortem human autistic (and control) brains, Changes in prefrontal axons may disrupt the network in autism (emphasis mine):

Neuronal migration appears to be intact in autism, since neither neuronal density nor cortical depth was affected, at least in the parts of the three areas studied (Supplemental data: Cytoarchitecture of ACC, OFC, and LPFC). Our data suggest that the insult occurs later, when axons connect with other areas in the presence of high GAP-43 expression, and possibly other growth factors, which may remain elevated in adulthood in response to inflammation (Vargas et al., 2005). The associated signaling pathways need to be investigated for therapeutic interventions in autism.

GAP-43 is up-regulated by a variety of external factors as well, including estrogenic agents that disrupt endocrine function, such as bisphenol A, used for lining plastic food and drink containers, linoleic acids found in some oils, and by immunosuppressive and psychiatric drugs used for a variety of common disorders, including psoriasis, asthma, rheumatoid arthritis, depression and anxiety (Wong et al., 1989; Jyonouchi et al., 2001; Granda et al., 2003; Croen et al., 2005; Ostensen et al., 2006; Sairanen et al., 2007; Nguyen et al., 2009; Brown, Jr., 2009). Several of these substances came into heavy use in the early 80s at a time when the prevalence of autism began to rise (Blaxill, 2004). Epidemiologic studies are necessary to investigate if these events are merely coincident or if the cumulative effects of dietary factors and drugs change the uterine and postnatal environment and perturb the expression of factors implicated in axon growth and guidance in autism.

The key here is that the rise in ASD highly correlates with the increased use of BPA, especially in things like baby bottles. When the bottles are heated in hot water on the stove, or in the microwave, the BPA can leach out into the formula. This doubtfully accounts for all of the increase, but I bet it accounts for a lot of it. Here we have a clear mechanism for neural changes that are found in autistic brains. I think the question above is a great one, and I think this study shows that there are things we can do to reduce the incidence of ASD, one being, get rid of BPA in plastic bottles (and in can liners), and cut out linoleic acid from infant formula (and other foods).

3
Ca1150430b1904659742ce2cad621c7d

(12540)

on March 30, 2012
at 05:26 PM

I would also like to put out there that, in another age, the individuals who are living with what is now called ASD (or Aspergers, etc.) would likely have been singled out as very special individuals -- their particular talents (because most of these individuals ARE highly talented -- some in multiple areas) and eccentricities would have been considered by many cultures to mark them as "sacred", and they would likely have taken roles as shamanic apprentices, etc. In truth, many of the behaviors that have, historically, marked prophets, oracles, artists, writers, and philosophers, in our CURRENT society are considered "aberrations" that must be "fixed" to make this person "normal" -- and as a result, I believe we are stifling much of the unique, creative aspect of people in our culture in our attempt to 'normalize' their behavior and keep them from standing out or making others 'uncomfortable'.

Perhaps it is a personal bias of mine, and I am willing to accept that. In order to "fit" into society, I myself had to abandon practices that are inherent in my nature, but which would be considered "aberrant"... Oracles no longer hear the voice of the universe and dream sacred dreams - instead, we are considered "delusional" and our dreams considered "escapist pathology". In a similar way, all four of our children are artistic -- and we were HEAVILY pressured while they were in school to drug them -- they "daydreamed too much", and "insisted on writing down LIES (ie, fantasy stories) in their journals instead of FACTS about their daily life", and "disturbed the classroom with their exuberance and insistence on examining everything"... We chose to support our children's individuality and creativity, rather than succumbing to societal pressure to start them on Ritalin and anti-depressants, and, interestingly enough, they grew to be brilliant artists, musicians, and all around -good- people as adults... shrugs So if I am biased, I suppose I will retain that bias and give the children who exhibit these variances of character and personality the benefit of the doubt, help them as I am able, and learn, if I can, to appreciate their unique perspectives on the "outer" and "inner" worlds in which they reside.

I do not belittle, in any way, the challenge of raising a child like this. Gosh knows, I was a complete HANDFUL for my parents, as were our children for us... but seeing the result when their individuality of experience is cherished... irreplaceable.

Medium avatar

(4878)

on March 30, 2012
at 06:13 PM

Bravo! YES!! My dad is one of these Aspies...born in 1930, graduated from HS at 14 ...went on to multiple degrees in Math, Physics, and Computer Science. I often wonder what would have happened if he hadn't been an only child and been carefully cultured by my very educated grandma. Socially awkward, yes...incredibly intuitive...even more so. I miss him, now that he is cloaked in Parkinson's and Alzheimer's. There is no one who could cut through the BS as clearly as he.

3
C4134ed417dbc0a6b79ab2cee32632d3

(1811)

on March 29, 2012
at 08:44 PM

I just wanted to add that I'm working my way through a self-diagnosis of Asperger's syndrome at the moment (I read a blog that someone posted on Facebook of traits and how females aspies felt - it was me, my whole life, so as an aspie would, off I went to find out as MUCH as possible... describes who/what I am - as well as a classic case of ADHD/SPD).

I'm 36. Asperger's wasn't a diagnosable condition/syndrome when I was a child.

I don't think that there's necessarily been an increase per se, it's just that people are more aware and with the school system changing so much from just 10 or 20 years ago, the way that kids are "labelled" has changed too. My selective mutism in nursery (kindergarten) was seen as shyness by my teachers and me "having us on" (having a joke) by my parents. The teachers suggested a psychiatrist, but my parents thought that I was just too clever for my own good :-/ I'm unsure whether I want to pursue an official diagnosis as that could impact my future (it could be beneficial too though), but perhaps people are realising that their kids are getting the support that they need with an official diagnosis?

There is also the statistics that autism affects 4 times as many males as it does females - it's thought by the "experts" that this ratio is likely 2:1, as many female aspies have been missed (like myself), or misdiagnosed with bipolar, anxiety, depression etc.

And, of course, access to information plays a MASSIVE factor in it all too. Who'd be able to read about ASDs or speak directly to someone who they don't know on Twitter or a forum in the past? We're all able to access information that was forbidden to most of us in the past!

Being neurodiverse is not necessarily a disability - perhaps it is in our world and culture? What about a neurodiverse culture with the minority being neurotypical?

Is autism such a bad thing? Is there really an increase?

I've no doubt that ASDs are epigenetic and multifactorial. My own personal family history attests to this.

Paleo helps with a lot of my symptoms - my insomnia which I'd put down to leptin resistance (although I'd had it my whole life since being a small child as a skinny little thing), is probably linked to the AS/ADHD through a hormonal/chemical pathway (serotonin & melatonin are big players from my limited reading so far).

And, FWIW, we're suspecting our DS (3) may have AS. He hasn't had his MMR and is still breastfed (but I probably have a leaky gut).

No conclusion, just giving some information that's specific to me and my family!

518bce04b12cd77741237e1f61075194

(11577)

on March 29, 2012
at 08:57 PM

GREAT point, females are way-way under diagnosed with ASD because it can (but doesn't have to) look very different than males in a lot of cases, and diagnostic criteria was set out only for males. Females have higher rates of eating disorders, particularly anorexia (obsession with categorizing, organizing, restrictive behavior), and tend to do better at "mimicry" when it comes to socializing than their male counterparts.

3
Add2c0ce1ddf585c5057c3c0e7ca1a43

on March 29, 2012
at 08:25 PM

As an autism researcher, I find this line of discussion always frustrating. It ends up leading parents in the direction of putting children on radical diets in childhood, or massive amounts of "detoxification" drugs (note I've seen kids take upwards of 20 "natural" pills per day at the age of 8 followed by trips to remote locations, and hours in detoxification saunas) in the hopes of "curing" their children. Autism is a neurological condition and once present, changes in diet will not modify the diagnosis. It is still to be determined whether some changes in aberrant behaviour and self-immposed dietary restrictions can be altered with changes to the diet. However, this does not make a treatment for autism. This makes a treatment for some behaviour, or some food issues (not unlike many people in the population). That being said, I hope we continue to support autism research into both causes and treatments. However, there are effective evidence-based treatments for autism (early behavioural intervention "ABA") and parents should be steered in this direction until further research is conducted. At this point, we have NO EVIDENCE to support the idea that vaccines influence the presentation of autism.

Ce41c230e8c2a4295db31aec3ef4b2ab

(32564)

on March 29, 2012
at 11:14 PM

I think that the younger the child is, the more helpful any dietary interventions may be. All the anecdotal stories I have read where the parents say they have "cured" their child's autism, have been with children under 7 years old.

Add2c0ce1ddf585c5057c3c0e7ca1a43

on March 30, 2012
at 08:32 PM

Hey dragonfly - I'm not saying that dietary changes can't have effects on "some behaviour" , but this is not restricted to autism, nor does "some behaviour" define autism. It's just about being specific and measuring exactly what behaviour we are talking about, using a method that is scientifically sound.

518bce04b12cd77741237e1f61075194

(11577)

on March 30, 2012
at 12:49 AM

Managing food sensitivities, digestive discomfort, nutritional deficiencies, family unrest, and supporting the development/maintenance of coping skills will certainly mean a happier child, and that means happier parents. My brothers life is MUCH easier after we realized he was lactose intolerant- being bloated made him very grumpy, and he was ashamed and angry he sometimes had accidents that other kids his age wouldn't have had. That being said, I think anyone who says they've "cured" autism, probably was just misdiagnosed. It's hard to change the shape and basic functioning of a brain.

518bce04b12cd77741237e1f61075194

(11577)

on March 30, 2012
at 08:45 PM

Also, that book is based on the requirement that there HAS been a massive increase in ASD in the past few decades (which there is no evidence there has been- again, diagnoses means we are actively looking for ASD which we weren't before). I haven't read it, but I've skimmed the back, and it doesn't look like it addresses that there is a known genetic link for autism. It's not "is it genetic" anymore, we know that is a large component.

Ce41c230e8c2a4295db31aec3ef4b2ab

(32564)

on March 29, 2012
at 09:18 PM

I have read enough anecdotal reports of dietary changes (including Vitamin D supplementation) affecting the behavior of children diagnosed as autistic to question your assertion. If the diagnosis is incorrect, fine, but I think it is not very helpful to discourage parents from making dietary changes when they *do* help with their child's behavior.

518bce04b12cd77741237e1f61075194

(11577)

on March 30, 2012
at 08:48 PM

There are therapies and interventions that, when done early, have shown a great effect on children with ASD to assist their development. That is not being argued. I think just in this original comment, I agree with the sentiment that so many kids who have ASD are taking a million and one radical interventions, most of which are completely ineffective. So I'm not saying "let it be"- I'm saying that most of the interventions are overkill and unscientific, which is the number one problem. Some are effective, most are not. Which is why I agreed with the original comment.

Ce41c230e8c2a4295db31aec3ef4b2ab

(32564)

on March 30, 2012
at 02:35 PM

And JennyJ~ It's not that I think "therapies" should be pushed on families, but I have a close friend whose grandson has just been diagnosed at 2 and she asked me for support & resources, so I have been doing some research. *If* most autism is curable, when caught early enough, then I would certainly want to know this, if I had a child with autistic spectrum.

518bce04b12cd77741237e1f61075194

(11577)

on March 29, 2012
at 10:58 PM

@Dragonfly I think that the taking of supplements refers to the "autism business" most parents get swept up in, which can include many risky and expensive things that claim to "fix" autism. Certainly keeping a child healthy, which can include Vit. D supplementation and a healthy diet/gut, is a great idea, but you see a lot of kids taking soooooo many different things and giving false hopes of a "cure".

518bce04b12cd77741237e1f61075194

(11577)

on March 30, 2012
at 12:46 AM

I totally get that it's individual, and I'm all about managing any of the aspects of the condition that cause a lot of stress for the children AND parents. It just is hard, in my family's experience you get attacked from every side with people pelting you with products and therapies. Because autism is such a huge part of the way someone thinks/views the world/interacts with the world, it is a much more sensitive issue. W/o asthma, you are still the same person, but w/o autism, you have to change the way you fundamentally think and interact with the world.

Ce41c230e8c2a4295db31aec3ef4b2ab

(32564)

on March 30, 2012
at 02:20 PM

"W/o asthma, you are still the same person" Not my experience at all. My whole personality changed when I had a temporary remission in my teens and no longer had to be careful not to overexert and could keep up in sports. I shifted from book-worm to athlete.

Ce41c230e8c2a4295db31aec3ef4b2ab

(32564)

on March 30, 2012
at 02:23 PM

"I think anyone who says they've "cured" autism, probably was just misdiagnosed. It's hard to change the shape and basic functioning of a brain." Have you read this book? http://www.amazon.com/The-Myth-Autism-Misunderstood-Destroying/dp/1616081716/ref=cm_cr_pr_product_top

Add2c0ce1ddf585c5057c3c0e7ca1a43

on March 30, 2012
at 08:28 PM

Sorry about the "soapbox". I certainly don't think that diets should not be modified...I'm paleo after all, but making extremely radical changes to diets can interfere with other "effective treatments". I would just want to encourage parents to get the evidence-based treatment first, and then, carefully explore, using data the effects of additive treatments.

22212e9ba2a041e6da6c963d4d41615a

(5773)

on March 29, 2012
at 08:30 PM

I was more posting regarding infancy diet effecting the cause not for treatment.

C79a5b43dfc5749200bd9dcaa6bb0858

on March 29, 2012
at 09:37 PM

wannabehealthy, so what is your reasoning for the increase?? You didn't really answer the question, just got on a soap box.

Ce41c230e8c2a4295db31aec3ef4b2ab

(32564)

on April 01, 2012
at 12:09 AM

And children who are autistic from birth vs. those who regress seem to be given the same diagnosis, when perhaps there are different things going on...

Ce41c230e8c2a4295db31aec3ef4b2ab

(32564)

on March 29, 2012
at 11:20 PM

And, having "cured" my so-called incurable asthma with EFT and Vitamin D supplementation, I am so glad I didn't buy into the "incurable" story. That said, Autism is not life-threatening, in most cases. If people are happy to live with it, great! But I can completely understand the parents who try everything. I have a friend with an autistic daughter who needs 24/7 care and I have seen the challenges for both of them. It's so individual, you know?

518bce04b12cd77741237e1f61075194

(11577)

on March 30, 2012
at 08:42 PM

@Dragonfly, I know you meant it as just a way to manage the symptoms of autism, I still just tense up when people tell me they can "cure" it. I used to have asthma throughout childhood too, as well as a heart condition, and I know that my life was VERY different after I sorted them out- I had way less anxiety, was able to go places w/o being in fear etc. I still think this cannot be likened to "lifting" autism from a person. Autism is the way you view the world: my brother asks "was that okay?" after introducing himself, b/c he expresses himself in a fundamentally different way than most.

Add2c0ce1ddf585c5057c3c0e7ca1a43

on March 30, 2012
at 08:29 PM

Re: the increase. I don't think there is necessarily an increase, just more knowledge, and more funding attached to diagnoses...

Ce41c230e8c2a4295db31aec3ef4b2ab

(32564)

on March 31, 2012
at 11:00 PM

Personally, I've seen a huge increase (I work with new moms) and I don't think it's just better diagnostics... I'm almost 50, so perhaps I have a different perspective.

3eca93d2e56dfcd768197dc5a50944f2

(11697)

on April 17, 2012
at 04:08 AM

I've read a lot of reports of autistic kids following the SCD/GAPS diets back in the day (similar to Paleo, but with probiotic dairy), to the point that they're fully functional as independent people today, while they wouldn't even speak before the diet change. So I think that diet DOES help immensely AS LONG AS the kid is still young. The older they are, the less the body can fix itself via a diet.

2
B9b739e406d30e2b168aed8e9c93add5

on March 30, 2012
at 12:59 PM

I think you should look into the GAPS (Gut and Psychology Syndrome) Diet by Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride. She makes the case that Autism, as well as other neurological conditions, results from a leaky-gut, an imbalance in good/bad bacteria and an overload in toxins that result from these two conditions. She is a Medical doctor of Neurology, and also went back to school to get a degree in nutrition, after her son was diagnosed with Autism at the age of three. She developed a diet protocol that removes offending foods (including all grains [very Paleo in my opinion] and starches) and is heavy on bone broth and probiotic-rich foods (WAPF) to both heal the gut lining, as well as bring bacteria back to an optimal balance. This is not a quick fix; she says it can take at least two years for an individual to fully heal. Most incredibly, she cured her son of Autism with this protocol! She said this won't happen with all children (especially if they start on the diet later, since it's harder the longer they have had whatever condition they were diagnosed with). But, it's a compelling argument, and very much worth reading. Check it out: http://www.gapsdiet.com/Home_Page.html

2
Bf57bcbdc19d4f1728599053acd020ab

(5043)

on March 30, 2012
at 12:14 PM

I think autism is one of those conditions like MS or IBS that is extremely complex and individualistic. I definitely wouldn't call it a disease. We love to pathologize anything that isn't in a narrow range of "normal" and that is terribly damaging to people as individuals. We would love to find a "miracle cure" because it's not easy for parents to raise a child like this in a society that glorifies, rewards and caters to the neurotypical.

THat said, I have come across in my reading a certain amount of evidence that autism spectrum conditions involve the gut-brain axis in some way, much like depression. Most autistic people apparently have digestive difficulties. So do most schizophrenics, for what it's worth. Question: is there any cause and effect here, and if so, which direction does it run in? And for me, the million dollar question is: how is the microbiome involved?

here's a link to an article in New Scientist magazine that might be of interest: http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn19011-gut-bacteria-may-contribute-to-autism.html?DCMP=OTC-rss&nsref=online-news

One possibility is that the gut bacteria in children with autism are producing toxins that might interfere with brain development. One of the compounds identified in the urine of autistic children was N-methyl-nicotinamide (NMND), which has also been implicated in Parkinson's disease.

We know next to nothing about most of this. The one thing we DO know is that it's not simple and straightforward. For people who have not been there to make suggestions that parents are screwing something up is the worst kind of ignorance. Instead, they should admire their courage and celebrate the wonderful aspects of their children with them.

Bf57bcbdc19d4f1728599053acd020ab

(5043)

on March 30, 2012
at 04:12 PM

No, but it sounds really intriguing. I've never heard of the "neuro-immune" system before. Mental illness in general is such a black box thing. Most treatments are a shot in the dark. It would be great to find a causal mechanism for these things, and some way to treat them. But it would be too bad if everyone was "normal" - even if it would make life a hell of a lot easier.

Ce41c230e8c2a4295db31aec3ef4b2ab

(32564)

on March 30, 2012
at 02:25 PM

Have you seen this book? http://www.amazon.com/The-Myth-Autism-Misunderstood-Destroying/dp/1616081716/ref=cm_cr_pr_product_top

1
9225c8e3ea353a2c604cacd62506047d

on March 31, 2012
at 08:39 PM

I work in autism research. I blogged about the latest CDC figures here: http://questioning-answers.blogspot.co.uk/2012/03/cdc-and-autism-numbers-game.html

The increase in cases is most likely due to various factors which include increased awareness of the condition, a broader definition of autism (something for which the debate on the proposals for DSM-V have created quite a few news column inches) and better and earlier detection of the spectrum of conditions.

I personally don't think that these factors alone explain all the increase and as per the Nature series on autism last year - a significant proportion of the increase is probably due to 'other factors'. Precisely what those factors are is still up for discussion although one area that perhaps needs a little more inquiry is the growing science of epigenetics - changes to gene function not due to genomic changes - which brings factors such as diet, pollutants, vitamin and mineral deficiency and stress into the frame.

The latest figures are quite startling and, if anything else, reiterate the need for society to makes sure it provides, takes care of, and gives appropriate opportunities to those on the spectrum.

1
B41cdb2253976ba9b429dd608d02c21f

(1495)

on March 29, 2012
at 10:46 PM

I read a recent article about how some experts are trying to get the DSM-IV definition of Autism defined because so many docs are quick to diagnose autism when a child may have 1 or 2 commonalities of autism. I took a test that measured autistic tendencies and based on the result, I should be autistic, yet I'm not. Point being, I think like ADHD was over-diagnosed when I was a child, autism is over-diagnosed. That said, I have a severely autistic child near and dear to my heart. He really is barely functioning. I believe diet has helped a little, but the point is that he does not have a mild form of autism and no amount of good diet will turn him into a normal functioning person.

1
F5f742cc9228eb5804114d0f3be4e587

(7660)

on March 29, 2012
at 08:47 PM

I think Kurt Harris's observations are pertinent here: http://paleohacks.com/questions/107257/is-paleo-a-band-aid/107912#107912

I think this is potentially promising for many conditions. We are missing whole working parts to our immune system and we may be seeing the results, which is why diet looks like a promising therapy, but in fact may only be a band-aid and not a cure.

1
2a0f1afde303eadc422d015fc22f7512

(1118)

on March 29, 2012
at 08:14 PM

WHatever is going on, at the risk of sounding ignorant and oversimplifying, I'm going to wager that it's mostly about the food (not just mothers but maybe even several generations of what the families ate). Food is the biggest drug we take liberally multiple times a day, every day of our life, and we've inherited nutritional deficiencies over generations ontop of our own crap diets and we already food causes most of our diseases (including some theories on things like Alzheimers). Let's just stop eating shit and then scratching our heads about all our new medical mysteries.

(and yes...I know it's definitely more complex than that)

518bce04b12cd77741237e1f61075194

(11577)

on March 29, 2012
at 09:45 PM

"New medical mysteries": it's not actually new. There have long been "idiot savants", "children of the wild", and often features in freak shows for as long as civilization has been recording. Autistic persons were probably a sizable portion of all asylums right up until the 1940's.

2a0f1afde303eadc422d015fc22f7512

(1118)

on April 02, 2012
at 05:58 PM

the increased prevalenec is pretty new and there's no way our genetics have mutated that fast. It's something we're doing to ourselves.

-1
Ba5ca6a500e4f60d1f93c2520265f231

on March 31, 2012
at 10:10 PM

I hate to say it but its 99 percent environmental/ and diet causing the rise.

518bce04b12cd77741237e1f61075194

(11577)

on April 01, 2012
at 01:06 AM

This doesn't really add to the conversation, it's just a blanket statement. Not an argument.

Add2c0ce1ddf585c5057c3c0e7ca1a43

on April 18, 2012
at 02:06 AM

and there is no evidence to substantiate this claim

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