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Emerging Science Combined with Common Sense Gives Parents Better Options for Preventing Autism by Maureen McDonnell, RN

Emerging Science Combined with Common Sense Gives Parents Better Options for Preventing Autism by Maureen McDonnell, RN

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03/04/2013

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www.autismfle.com
REPRINTED WITH KIND PERMISSION © THE AUTISM FILE
THE AUTISM FILE USA 35 201087
biomedical
M aureen M cDonne, RN, is a

registered nurse with 32 years
experience in the felds o childbirth
education, labor and delivery,
newborn care, pediatrics, and
clinical nutrition. She is the ormer
national coordinator o the Deeat
Autism Now! conerences and is
the coounder o the Saving Our
Kids, Healing Our Planet green
children’s health expos. Maureen
is a passionate advocate, lecturer,
and consultant on children’s health

and the biomedical approach

to treating autism. Several o her
published articles, including “The
Importance o Preconception
Health (Healthy Women Make
Healthy Babies),” “What Can Be
Done to Prevent Autism Now,”
“How Nutrition Impacts Children’s
Behavior and Health,” and
“Saer Ways to Vaccinate”
appear on her website at

w w w .SO K H O P.com and blog at
www.RaisingHealthyKidsNaturally.
blogspot.com.
Above: Maureen with
granddaughter Lena
Emerging Science

Combined with
Common Sense Gives
Parents Better Options

for Preventing Autism
By Maureen McDonnell, RN

o one has all the answers as to why
so many children are developing
autism. Genetic predisposition plus
environmental actors? The increase

in the number o vaccines given to a
child beore the age o 5? Some even explain this
by saying there is better diagnosis rather than
a real increase. The problem is, as we wait or
thee x p e r ts whom we’ve placed in charge o our
health to unravel thee n t i re mystery, more and
more children are being negatively impacted
by this condition. And in the meantime, moms
o aected children who want to get pregnant
with another child or women who have never
conceived ask what can be done to increase
the chances o having a healthy baby. Instead
o waiting or new guidelines or ocial policy
changes to be issued by the Centers or Disease
Control (CDC) or the American Academy o
Pediatrics, savvy individuals are examining
the research that has already been done and
combining that with common sense. By doing
this, they are coming up with new strategies or
carrying, birthing, and raising healthier children.

Insights obtained rom relevant published
studies regarding various metabolic and other
dysunctions commonly ound in autism
(e.g., gastrointestinal and immune disorders,
impairments in detoxifcation pathways, oxidative
stress, and nutrient defciencies) and knowledge
gained rom parents who have recovered or
greatly improved their child’s condition are key
elements in creating the emerging paradigm
ocused on practical strategies or prevention and
treatment o autism.

Ped ia trics study conrms gastrointestinal
disorders in children with autism and
discusses treatment options:

Two papers published inPe d i a t r i c s on January 4,
2010, which were titled “Evaluation, Diagnosis,
and Treatment o Gastrointestinal Disorders in
Individuals With ASDs: A Consensus Report”
and “Recommendations or Evaluation and
Treatment o Common Gastrointestinal Problems
in Children With ASDs,” were based on a review o

88THE AUTISM FILE USA 35 2010
REPRINTED WITH KIND PERMISSION © THE AUTISM FILE
www.autismfle.com

relevant literature.1 The committee o 28 experts
concluded that children with autism oten have
medical disorders including gastrointestinal (GI)
diseases and that the associated GI symptoms −
abdominal pain, chronic constipation, diarrhea,
and gastroesophageal reux disease − can
be at the root o unusual (autistic) behavior.
The ensuing guidelines set orth in this paper
encouraging pediatricians to evaluate and treat
autistic children or these GI disorders is a long
overdue acknowledgement o what parents had
been telling pediatricians to do or years. The
point is, the inormation has now been published,
and there is no longer a dispute about the act
that GI problems exist in many autistic children.
We also know rom many parent reports that
when GI issues are treated properly and resolve,
autistic-like behaviors improve.

How might these two actors (the newly
published studies and parents’ reports) impact the
decisions women are making prior to becoming
pregnant, during their pregnancies, and ater the
baby is born?

Preconception

Some women I’ve been working with are
choosing to address their own GI health issues
prior to conceiving. I a woman has a history o
Candida (yeast) overgrowth, digestive problems,
gluten intolerance, ood allergies, bloating,
constipation, parasites, or other issues, they
are treating these conditions beore becoming
pregnant. Reducing sugar consumption,
minimizing the use o antibiotics, taking
probiotics, and using specifc diets and herbs or
intestinal pathogens such as yeast and parasites
can all be helpul in optimizing a woman’s health;
all o these greatly enhance the likelihood that her
child will not be prone to GI problems.

Pregnancy

The microora in the gut o the newborn is
inuenced by the mother’s health and is the
major external driving orce in the maturation
o the immune system ater birth.2 In addition
to a nutritious diet, an easily absorbed, natural
prenatal vitamin, pure sources o fsh oil (EPA
and DHA), higher levels o vitamin D, and oral
probiotics, women are adding ermented oods
(e.g., yogurt, homemade sauerkraut, and young
coconut kefr) during pregnancy to increase the
colonies o good bacterial ora in their intestines.

After Birth

It has been shown that when newborns are given
probiotics they have less incidence o asthma
and allergies and other orms o inammation.3
Other choices that enhance the health o the GI
system in an inant are breasteeding4 − especially
with the frst milk or colostrum − that continues

or at least 1 year and delays the introduction
o solids. When solids are introduced, oering a
varied, organic, hypoallergenic, and nutritious diet
is recommended. Since good ora is destroyed
by antibiotics, it makes sense to minimize their
use in inancy. Using natural remedies including
herbs, vitamins, probiotics, and reshly made
organic vegetable juices can help the body fght
o inection. In my opinion, since GI symptoms
are commonly ound in children with autism and
we know ways to minimize the occurrence o GI
symptoms, I consider it prudent to implement
these eective strategies to minimize the
likelihood o or prevent GI symptoms rom
developing.

Environmental Toxins, Impairment in
Detoxication Pathways, and Their Role in
Autism

What have we learned about environmental
toxins and their role in autism? We know toxic
chemicals have increased at an exponential
rate or the past 50 years, with an average o
10 new chemicals introduced each day. The
Environmental Protection Agency estimates
that 87,000 chemicals are in widespread use and
2.2 million pounds o pesticides are sprayed on
crops each year. We also know 85 billion pounds
o plastic products are produced annually. The
number o studies pointing to the detrimental
health eects o environmental toxins (with many
o them indicating a causal relationship with
behavioral and developmental issues) in recent
years has been astounding.5

A 2006 report rom the CDC ound that
the average American had 116 o the 148

synthetic compounds tested or − including the
inamous dioxin, polycyclic hydrocarbons, and
organochlorine pesticides. These same substances
were also ound in human milk, placental tissue,
umbilical cord blood, and the blood and body at
o newborns.

At a recent Saving Our Kids, Healing Our
Planet expo, Dr. Stuart Freedeneld, a prominent
environmentally-oriented medical doctor
rom New Jersey, discussed one particularly
toxic substance we come in contact with on a
daily basis: “Phthalates are ound in hundreds
o products including sot vinyl plastic toys,
shampoos, hair sprays, nail polish, waxed cheese
wraps, perumes, deodorants, new cars, and
pharmaceuticals. These are known hormone
disrupters that cause sperm and genital problems
in males and have been isolated in 75 percent
o humans tested. Further studies revealed that
these same substances are in the placenta, breast
milk, and inants.” He continued, “Phthalates have
been banned in Europe, but not in the U.S.”6

Dr. Doris Rapp, a board certifed environmental
medical specialist, allergist, and author oO u r
b io m e d ic a l
The point
is, the inormation
has now been
published, and

there is no longer
a dispute about
the act that GI
problems exist

in many autistic
children. We also
know rom many
parent reports that

when GI issues are
treated properly
and resolve, autistic-
like behaviors

improve.
The

microora in the gut
o the newborn is
inuenced by the
mother’s health and
is the major external

driving orce in the

maturation o the
immune system
ater birth.

www.autismfle.com
REPRINTED WITH KIND PERMISSION © THE AUTISM FILE
THE AUTISM FILE USA 35 201089
biomedical
We are
only beginning
to assess the ull
range o damage

to children caused
by exposure to
high (or even

moderate)
levels o these
chemicals. But

the inormation
we do have is
startling because,
in addition to the

transer o these
toxins rom mother

to baby in the
womb, they are
also transerable
via breast milk.

Toxic World, A Wake Up Call, spoke at the same

conerence. Dr. Rapp stated that she believes PCBs
and other chemicals with hormone disrupting
eects play a major role in explaining why 7
percent o all couples are now sterile; 50 percent
o all pregnancies end in a stillbirth, miscarriage,
birth deects or a chronic health problem; and
why 7 out o every 1000 U.S. newborns die (which
ranks the U.S. at number 29, tying with Poland
and Slovakia or inant mortality).7

We are only beginning to assess the ull range
o damage to children caused by exposure to
high (or even moderate) levels o these chemicals.
But the inormation we do have is startling
because, in addition to the transer o these toxins
rom mother to baby in the womb, they are also
transerable via breast milk. Moreover, since even
a healthy newborn’s ability to excrete chemicals
is not ully developed, they are more vulnerable
to damage rom these exposures than are the
rest o us. The Environmental Working Group
evaluated newborn babies born in U.S. hospitals
in August and September 2004 and ound an
average o 200 chemicals and pollutants in their
umbilical cord blood.8 Many o these toxins are
known to be carcinogenic and, given a newborn’s
porous and immature blood-brain barrier, the
toxins are especially detrimental to the newborn’s
neurological system.

To date, no health agency has ocially declared
environmental toxicity to be a major culprit in
the autism epidemic, but research and opinions
on this issue are changing rapidly. Studies done
over the past ew years are pointing to the role
toxins play not only in the explosive increase o
children being diagnosed with autism, but also
in explaining why, as per a CDC Autism A.L.A.R.M.
originally released in 2004, that 1 in 6 children
in this country have a neurological, behavioral,
or developmental problem. A 2005 study in

Environmental Health Perspectives9p rov id e d

evidence that the closer a pregnant mother lived
to pesticide application, the higher the chances
were or her child to develop autism. Another
study released in February 2009 showed a direct
relationship between the presence o PVC ooring
in a pregnant mother’s bedroom and the uture
development o autism spectrum disorders.1 0
Finally a report issued in December 2007 by the
Collaborative on Health and the Environment’s
Learning and Developmental Disabilities Initiative
summed up the urgency o this problem by
stating, “Given the established knowledge,
protecting children rom the neurotoxic
environmental exposures . . . is an essential public
health measure i we are to help prevent learning
and developmental disorders.”1 1

Why then are all children exposed to
environmental toxins not autistic? Dr. S. Jill James,
director o the Metabolic Genomics Laboratory
at the Arkansas Children’s Hospital Research
Institute, helped answer this puzzling question
when her research showed that a greater
number o children with autism (than do the
controls) have impairments in their methylation
(detoxifcation) pathways.1 2 These inherited or
genetic polymorphisms lead to a signifcant
reduction in a child’s production o glutathione.
Since glutathione is essential in the detoxifcation
o chemicals, being defcient makes these children
even more vulnerable than most to the damaging
eects o toxins.

Knowing the inormation above helps us now
in making new choices. Should we wait or the
CDC or the American Academy o Pediatrics to
issue an edict telling women o childbearing age
or men who plan on impregnating their partners
to avoid as many chemicals as possible and to
get tested or chelated or those chemicals beore
conception? Rather than wait or that to happen
(which may take decades, i ever), I think a better
idea is to exercise the precautionary principle and
minimize our own (and, thereore, our osprings’)
exposure to as many toxins as possible. This will
minimize the incidence o autism and other
childhood disorders.

A PARtiAl list f tiPs fR
RDiNg txi lAD
Switch to green cleaning and personal care

products (e.g., shampoo, toothpaste, body
lotion, acial cream). The average American
home contains 3-10 gallons o hazardous
materials, and 85 percent o the chemicals that
are registered have never been tested or their
impact on the human body. See the Green This!
series o books by Deirdre Imus.

Eat organically grown grains, vegetables, ruits,
nuts, meat, chicken, and eggs.1 3

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