Are Children with Autism…”Male-adjusted”?Our increasing exposure to EDCs lends support to a new hypothesis about the cause of autism, called the “extreme male theory.” This theory, proposed by Dr. Simon Baron-Cohen and colleagues, speculates that autism is caused by somethingchanging a fetus’ hormonal balance that then leads to over-masculinization of the developing brain. Could that “something” be the slurry of hormone-altering chemicals we’re exposed to every day? Are EDCs the reason autism-type disorders are 4-9 times more common in boys? (Vaccine side effects never show such lopsided impact on boys versus girls…a glaring fact that is totally ignored by those promoting the vaccine theory of autism.) The “extreme male theory” has been supported by two interesting bits of evidence: 1) fetuses with slightly elevated levels of testosterone grow up acting extra-male (more interested in things than people, slow language development, etc.); 2) children with autism — boys and girls — show extra-male characteristics (e.g. poor social ability, language delay). Here is where the very interesting link to EDCs comes into play: EDCs often act as weak estrogens and estrogen feminizines the body, but in a fetus’ developing brain estrogen actually has the opposite effect…it causes masculinization. For now, these ideas are just interesting theories, but the evidence is concerning. We urgently need more research to discover whether EDCs, or other chemicals, are linked to the worldwide rise in autism. Fortunately, on that front, there is very good news to report. Thanks to a dedicated group of pediatricians — members of groups like the AAP and CDC — the National Children’s Study (NCS) was launched in January 2009. Originally designed during the Clinton presidency, the NCS survived 8 years of Bush administration attempts to defund and demolish it. But today, the new administration has committed over $3 billion to carrying it out. The NCS will establish over one hundred study centers across the US to test the blood of 100,000 newborns for scores of synthetic chemicals, including many EDCs. (Workers have already begun going door-to-door enrolling pregnant moms into the program.) For the next 21 years, scientists will carefully follow the children’s health, comparing the body burden of chemicals at birth to diseases developed later in life. The NCS may be our generation’s best chance to solve the autism riddle. It is exactly the type of study needed to tease out the subtle relationships that may exist between autism and chemicals. Fortunately, it won’t take 21 years to start getting answers. Within 3-4 years, we expect to have enough data accumulated to start detecting what chemicals might be linked to autism. The NCS will also search for correlations between chemical exposures and other increasingly frequent serious illnesses, such as, diabetes, leukemia, brain tumors, prostate/breast/ovarian cancer, lymphoma, congenital malformations, infertility, attention deficit disorder…perhaps even Parkinson’s disease. Beside the NCS, I support other new studies to look at: 1) the autism risk in vaccinated vs. unvaccinated kids; 2) the metabolism of vaccine ingredients (like aluminum, added to make shots work better), 3) more accurate determinations of thetrue incidence of autism. (The number of kids getting autism is unclear. Some studies suggest that much of the autism spike is just a labeling shift: kids who used to be labeled “mentally retarded” increasingly are being labeled as “autistic.”) In conclusion, I thank all parents for their concern and interest and I especially want to salute activist parents for standing up and making their voices heard on behalf of their children…and all of our children. Parents have the immensely important duty to nurture and raise their young children. Mastering scores of scientific studies and arguing science with biochemists or toxicologists is a great challenge that should not also be their responsibility. It’s unfortunate that our nation’s insufficient response to the autism surge has forced so many parents into this position. But, now is the time for all of us to join together to solve this very serious burden on our families, our economy and our collective future. Part 1: Vaccines and Autism: A Proven Trigger or A Terrible Coincidence Part 2: Good Common Sense About Vaccines and Autism.
Originally posted on June 30, 2009, at www.huffingtonpost.com