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Anju Usman, MD, is the medical director of True Health Medical Center and Pure Compounding Pharmacy in Naperville, Illinois. She specializes in the biomedical treatment of children with autism/ADD and developmental delays. She has been involved in researching copper/zinc imbalances, metallothionein dysfunction, hyperbaric oxygen therapy, nucca adjustments and chronic infections in ASD patients. She is actively involved in the Defeat Autism Now! movement as a speaker and advisor. She is also co-founder of ACE (Autism Center for Enlightenment), a non-profit dedicated to education, research, and support for families.
BY ANJU USMAN, MD AND BETH C. HYNES, JD, MBA very parent’s dream is to have a healthy baby. Over the past ten years of working with families devastated by the diagnosis of autism, we, along with our patients’ parents, have realized one key fact: if we knew then what we know now, the diagnosis of the disease called autism could very well have been prevented. Considering that the cause(s) of the current epidemic of autism spectrum disorders (ASD)1 are unknown (and scant research dollars are being dedicated to finding the most likely culprits), there is no surefire method to avoid having your infant regress into this devastating state. That sad fact, however, does not mean that there are no proactive steps parents can take to try to mitigate the chances of this disease overtaking their baby and stealing their hopes and dreams for that child’s life. Having reviewed the medical and laboratory test results of thousands of children afflicted with ASD, clinicians using a biomedical approach to treating autism see repeating patterns in these children - impaired methylation and detoxification, mitochondrial dysfunction, gastrointestinal distress, and immune dysregulation compounded by chronic viral, fungal and bacterial infections and a burden of heavy metals and other toxins. From this perspective, we have come to view autism as a multifactorial medical disease that can be treated and overcome and, therefore, possibly avoided. Coming straight from the heart, this advice is for thinking, active parents and prospective parents who want to know what they can do to reduce the risk that their infant will regress into autism.2 In our practice, we have helped many parents go on to have healthy children even though they already
Beth Hynes, JD, MBA, earned a law degree from Northwestern University School of Law, where she also served as an editor of the Law Review, and a masters degree in business administration from New York University’s Stern School of Business. Now serving as the director of business affairs for a global division of a Fortune 10 company, Beth has spent more than twenty years negotiating complex transactions in a variety of legal and business capacities. Mom to fraternal twin boys, one of whom is impacted by autism, Beth teamed with Dr. Usman and her husband, Kevin, to found the Autism Center for Enlightenment, a not-for-profit foundation dedicated to supporting research and other initiatives for families pursuing recovery from autism for their children.
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have a child with autism. Considering that the information provided here is not harmful but, to the contrary, is helpful in promoting improved maternal and fetal health, there is little downside to pursuing these strategies while simultaneously minimizing the risk of having your child slip away into the autism epidemic. According to the latest statistics out of California, that epidemic continues to grow from the already shocking 1 out of 150 children.3 The aim here is to provide an analytical construct that will guide parents in making choices for both their own health and that of their baby before, during, and after pregnancy. Think of the analogy of the straw that broke the camel’s back. Human beings start life as infants with some “straws” in their saddle – these are predispositions to be harmed by certain chemicals, to be susceptible to certain diseases, or to have a less robust detoxification capacity. The goal of gestating and parenting an infant in today’s toxic world is to not accumulate additional straws during your baby’s gestation and infancy, thereby avoiding adding the straw that breaks the camel’s back. Autism seems to occur when the infant’s body is so overwhelmed by toxins, viruses and/or pathogenic elements that typical development is arrested and/or derailed. Children diagnosed with autism have a variety of medical problems, the underpinnings of which can be ameliorated and/or healed. The symptoms associated with autism occur through malfunctioning of the infant immune, gastrointestinal, and central nervous systems (“Infant Body Systems”) – all of which, when functioning properly, contribute to the healthy development of the brain. Viruses,
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It has been found that DMPS was a useful and complementary method to increase fertility compared to hormone therapy in infertile women.
heavy metals, toxins, fungi, and bacteria together form a weapon that disrupts the development of, and harms the functioning of, these critical Infant Body Systems. As researchers have recently found, “a single toxicant may promote different immuneassociated diseases that are dependent upon the specific window of early life exposure, the gender of the exposed offspring, and the genetic background of the offspring.”4 Our construct will consist of actions you can take to promote the healthy development of these Infant Body Systems as well as steps you can take to avoid upsetting the healthy development of those systems. Due to the symbiotic relationship between a mother and her developing fetus, care must be taken by the mom before, during, and after pregnancy (if nursing) to both avoid exposure to harmful elements and to promote optimal maternal detoxification processes so that the host body remains as clean an environment as possible within which vigorous infant development can unfold. Only recently have researchers begun closely linking environmental factors with developmental delays in our children.5 A host of studies show how environmental factors including diet, nutrition, air quality, clean water, heavy metals (e.g., mercury, lead, arsenic, and aluminum), xenobiotics (e.g., chemicals, pesticides, plasticizers, and perchlorates), pharmaceuticals, and vaccinations can change your child’s inborn risk.6 This area of study is called epigenetics – the molecular changes in our DNA caused by environmental factors. In 2003, researchers at Duke University found that rats carrying a gene for obesity, cancer, and diabetes, when fed a diet high in B-12, folic acid, choline, and methyl-rich foods, had babies that were born healthy and with a reduced risk of developing disease; this research revealed that these genetic changes persisted across four generations. Thus, when you eat a healthy diet, you are affecting not only the health of your own kids but also your grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and great-great-grandchildren. Researchers are finding hundreds of unwanted and potentially toxic chemicals in the placenta and cord blood of newborns as well as in
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mothers’ breast milk.7 That means that today’s children are born with a toxic burden their infant bodies must contend with from day one. Studies out of China, Texas,8 and San Francisco9 show that if pregnant mothers can decrease their exposure to pollutants during gestation, they can improve health outcomes for their children - especially brain development. Compounds such as mercury, cadmium, nickel, trichloroethylene, and vinyl chloride in the air around the birth residence caused a 50% increase in the risk of autism.10 Numerous studies document the neurotoxic effects of heavy metals especially dangerous to the developing brain is mercury.11 Yet, many of our children are actually injected with the mercurycontaining preservative thimerosal in their infant vaccines. Although thimerosal has been removed from, or perhaps phased out of, many childhood vaccines, it still remains in the flu vaccine, which is recommended by health authorities to pregnant woman as well as to children under age 2. Mercury exposure is such a concern that pregnant women are advised by health authorities not to eat fish because of potential mercury contamination – yet injecting thimerosal is much more damaging than the exposure suffered through eating it in food such as fish. Vaccines also contain aluminum, formaldehyde, and other toxic elements as well as live viruses that, in a subset of infant bodies, can trigger harmful impacts.12 Heavy metals have also been identified as factors affecting human fertility. Diagnosing and reducing the heavy metal burden of women improved the spontaneous conception chances of infertile women.13 Women with many dental amalgams had a higher incidence of miscarriages and a higher excretion of mercury when given the chelating agent DMPS (2,3-Dimercapto1-propanesulfonic acid). It has been found that DMPS was a useful and complementary method to increase fertility compared to hormone therapy in infertile women.14 With all this evidence mounting against various environmental toxins affecting human development, an international assembly of scientists, doctors, toxicologists, and researchers sponsored by the World
Health Organization (WHO), the European Environmental Agency, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) gathered in the Faroe Islands in May 2006.15 Their consensus statement was clear: “it is time to take action, now.” As expected, the declaration highlighted the results of hundreds of studies that showed early fetal exposures to toxic substances, even at low concentrations, can cause health problems later in life. There are a growing number of chemicals that affect the developing embryo, fetus, and infant, including the pesticides DDT, atrazine, methoxychlor, and vinclozolin. Also suspect are plastics and the epoxy resin bisphenol A, plasticizing agents called phthalates, mercury, lead, arsenic, organotoxins, polychlorinated biphenols (PCBs), carbon monoxide, smog, tobacco smoke, and alcohol. The health problems caused by exposure to these substances comprise a dizzying array of maladies including cancer, diabetes, obesity, asthma, and allergies as well as reproductive, cardiovascular, neurological, cognitive, endocrine, psychological, immune, and respiratory troubles. Other troubling chemicals include parabens (found in various creams and lotions) and triclosan, an antibacterial agent (found in toothpaste, soaps, and cleaning products). Although parabens and triclosan are not ingested, absorbing chemicals through the skin can be far more dangerous than swallowing because transdermal applications are transported directly to the bloodstream. Most women absorb 51 pounds of chemicals every year from their cosmetics alone! Additional exposures emanate from daily lifestyle, profession, and locale. For those elements for which we have the flexibility to make choices, we must choose wisely. After all, it is not just our health that is being affected by our choices but the health of our children and progeny as well. Basic principles to guide you in decision making surrounding pregnancy are as follows: 1. You are what you eat (and drink); therefore, make healthy choices in what you consume. 2. Skin is the largest organ in the body, so be very careful of what you rub into yours and your baby’s. 3. Think beyond “green”: What is “green” for the environment is not always what is healthiest for the body, but what is healthiest for the body is always “green.”
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Suggestions to promote these principles are below and are cumulative, so keep following each set of suggestions as this journey into and through parenthood progresses.
Pre-Pregnancy While planning a pregnancy, we recommend that you clean up any toxicity in your body and begin to follow a more organic, healthy lifestyle. Remember, the less toxic you are, the better for you and your future baby. Undertake a sequential detoxification program that targets the liver and colon; this type of program can take six months or more and should not be done while pregnant. In a careful manner, with an experienced dentist, remove amalgams from your teeth, which also can take six months or more. Take the time now to find organic, nontoxic makeup, hair, and body products that you like and start integrating them into your daily life. Ask your doctor to run some tests to determine any additional specific supplementation you may need to optimize levels within your body; a good place to start is your copper-zinc ratio (1:1 is the ideal ratio), thyroid function (TSH, free t3, free t4), Vitamin D 25 OH,16 vitamin A levels, and total cholesterol (low cholesterol is associated with preterm births). Next, clean up your living and working environment.17 Remove all harmful chemical cleaning agents from your cleaning routine at home and at the office, and instead use cleaning products labeled level 1 by the EPA. Do not forget to include products for dishwashing and clothing detergent in your cleanup, and avoid toxic dry cleaning as much as possible. Finally, improve your nutrition with a targeted vitamin supplementation program to include omega-3 essential fatty acids, sublingual methyl B-12, folinic acid, vitamin D3, zinc, and antioxidants.
DO Eat organic, hormone-free food Drink organic green tea, filtered water, and antioxidant rich organic juices Use stevia, raw organic honey, and xylitol as sweeteners Go for walks and get some sunshine daily Use aluminum-free natural deodorant Use natural hennas to color your hair Use cast iron, glass, or stainless steel cookware Use chemical-free cleaning products in your home DON’T Consume fish or foods w/MSG or food dyes Drink soda, carbonated beverages, or alcohol Consume artificial sweeteners Be exposed to lawn chemicals or second-hand smoke Use moisturizers or makeup with chemicals or parabens in them Use chemical dyes, perms, or other such hair treatments Cook with pans that are non-stick, Teflon coated, or made from aluminum Clean rugs with harmful chemicals, use pesticides, or chemically treat your lawn
During Pregnancy We would suggest that you find a holistic health practice to guide you during pregnancy and delivery as there are many decisions to make during this time. In general, we suggest avoiding medications to the extent possible as well as acetaminophen because it hinders normal detoxification. Add zinc, calcium, essential fatty acids, and prenatal vitamins to your daily supplement intake. Discontinue use of nail polish and any makeup (including lipstick) products that contain parabens and other toxins. Use fluoridefree toothpaste as fluoride interferes with iodine metabolism, which is an issue implicated in mental retardation worldwide.
DO Yoga and engage in stress management techniques, such as massages and listening to soothing music Get mercury-free RhoGAM if you need this intervention Eat fermented foods, cook with organic coconut oil, use organic raw apple cider as salad dressing, and consume healthy fats, and cold pressed oil Use natural remedies for pain, like homeopathic arnica Drink kombucha and take probiotics Use a corded headset Run an air filter in your bedroom while you sleep DON’T Start a rigorous exercise program, sit in a sauna, or get dental work (not even cleanings) Wait until labor arrives to discuss NOT subjecting your baby to vaccines at birth, like the hepatitis B vaccine Eat fast food or seafood (especially tuna), consume food packaged in plastic or Styrofoam, or use a microwave Use acetaminophen Pursue a detoxification regimen Talk on a cell phone without a headset or work with a laptop computer on your lap Undertake a major home renovation (concern is for lead and other toxins in the process)
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Infancy Healthy babies grow and develop perfectly when nature’s biochemical processes are allowed to unfold uninterrupted. The sequence of events that leads an infant to begin to focus, develop gross and fine motor skills, begin to speak and to walk is based on a delicate but deliberate series of biochemical processes and chemical interactions. A primary goal of raising a healthy infant is to avoid disruption or interference with this sequence. Babies look fragile and, indeed, they are. An infant’s immune system, which guards the rest of the body from harm, is immature and requires time and peace to mature maximally. Thus, help your infant progress uninterrupted by avoiding the introduction of toxins, viruses, allergens, and heavy metals into their bodies. In light of this, parents should consider an alternate, gradual vaccine schedule of carefully thought through vaccines for infants being raised in the domestic United States.18 If you have amalgams and plan to nurse, you should send a sample of your breast milk to a specialty lab for heavy metal testing. If you plan to use formula, use those containing DHA (docosahexanenoic acid), an essential fatty acid critical to the healthy development of the central nervous system. In terms of food introduction, organic baby food is recommended. Start feeding with organic rice cereal. Avoid the introduction of soy, gluten, or dairy until after the baby turns two years of age. After one year, supplement your baby with a quarter teaspoon of mercury-free cod liver oil – again this is to increase the supply of omega-3 essential fatty acids. In terms of coping with baby colds and other minor illnesses, unless symptoms are severe, less is more when it comes to treatment. For fevers over 101˚F, treat with a tepid bath or dye-free ibuprofen. Fevers, while nerve-wracking for new parents, are the response of a healthy immune system reacting to kill off an invading virus through heat. Antibiotics should be used sparingly and only for confirmed bacterial infections (they do not alleviate viral infections). Remember, antibiotic use disrupts the normal gut flora and promotes the overgrowth of yeast and resistant organisms that, in turn, harms the optimal functioning of the immune system. Bear in mind that most ear infections are viral and are thus not treatable with antibiotics. Use homeopathic ear drops to help ease the symptoms associated with ear infections and colds.
DO Invest in an organic baby mattress, bedding, and pillows and hypoallergenic encasements Bathe your baby daily in warm filtered water — enjoy the experience with your baby! Feed with all organic and hormone-free products Feed baby using glass bottles Wearing a hat, walk outside with baby to get 10 to 15 minutes of sunshine daily Run an air filter in baby’s bedroom DON’T Clothe the baby in pajamas soaked in flame retardant chemicals Use soaps, moisturizers, or other “baby products” on the skin as such items are unnecessary and contain harmful chemicals Introduce dairy, gluten, or soy until after age two Feed baby from plastic bottles or cups or microwave formula or breast milk Use sunscreen on baby Take your infant into polluted and heavily populated locations
Autism is not inevitable in 1 out of every 150 children. A mounting body of evidence is pointing to environmental factors as the culprit that overwhelms the delicate, developing immune, gastrointestinal, and neurological systems. In summary, cleaning up your home environment, detoxifying yourself prior to pregnancy, avoiding toxic exposures, and limiting stressors on the developing fetal and infant immune system can allow an infant the best chance to develop a healthy body. In counseling
parents of children with autism, our message is quite simple – children are adversely affected by environmental toxins, viruses, and bacteria, and the manifestation of that toxicity is the neuro/immuno/ inflammatory condition called AUTISM. Increasingly, autism is understood to be an environmentally-triggered disease and, therefore, by recognizing and evading these environmental toxins, our babies have a better chance of avoiding being overcome and succumbing to this disease.
By reducing the number of straws your baby is born with and not adding straws during infancy, you reduce the likelihood of breaking the camel’s back.
Autism is not inevitable in 1 out of every 150 children
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References 1 “Autism” means autism spectrum disorders (ASD) including autistic disorder, pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified, atypical autism and Asperger’s syndrome. 2 This article is an overview of a book we expect to publish next spring that will delve into these topics more comprehensively and that will include a specific resource guide. 3 CDC’s Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network released data in 2007 that found about 1 in 150 8-yearold children in multiple areas of the United States had an ASD. See also, State of California Dept. of Developmental Services, www.dds.ca.gov. A 2002 study by the M.I.N.D. Institute at the University of California at Davis stated that “the unprecedented increase in autism in California is real and cannot be explained away by artificial factors such as misclassification and criteria changes, nor by in-migration.” Study by Byrd et al., M.I.N.D. Institute, University of California at Davis, The Epidemiology of Autism in California, October 2002. 4 RR Dietert. Developmental Immunotoxicology: Focus on Health Risks. Chem Res Toxicol, 2008 Sept.11. 5 Environmental Working Group. A Benchmark Investigation of Industrial Chemicals. Body Burden 2005 July 14. 6 Geier, MR. Thimerosal Exposure in Infants and Neurodevelopmental Disorders, An Assessment of Computerized Medical Records in the Vaccine Safety Datalink. J. Neurol. Sci., 2008 May 14. 7 Dorea, JG. Exposure to Mercury during the First Six Months via Human Milk and Vaccines: Modifying Risk Factors. Am J Perinatol, 2007 June 12. 8 Palmer, RF et al. Proximity to Point Sources of Environmental Mercury Release as a Predictor of Autism Prevalence. Health & Place, 2008 Mar 15. 9 Windham, GC et al. Autism Spectrum Disorders in Relation to Distribution of Hazardous Pollutants in the San Francisco Bay area. Environ Health Perspect, 2006 Sept. 21. 10 These compounds and others that contribute to smog also affect lung development and lung capacity in humans. 11 Transandre, L. Mental Retardation and prenatal methylmercury toxicity. Am J Ind Med 2006 Mar. 12 Viruses in vaccines have been implicated in inflammatory bowel disease and autism. V. Kawashima, Takayuki et al. Detection and Sequencing of Measles Virus from Peripheral Mononuclear Cells from Patients with Inflammatory Bowel Disease and Autism. Digestive Diseases & Science, Vol 45, No. 4, April 2000, pp723729. See also, Walker, S.J., Hepner K., Segal, J., & Krigsman A. Persistent Ileal Measles Virus in Large Cohort of Regressive Autistic Children with Ileocolitis and Lymphonodular Hyperplasia: Revisitation of an Earlier Study. Wake Forest University School of Medicine, Winston-Salem, NC. 13 Gerhard, J. Heavy Metals and Fertility. J Toxicol Environ Health A. 1998 Aug 21;54(8):593-611 Gerhard, J. et al., Heavy Metals and Fertility J Toxicol Environ Health 1998 Aug 21. 15 Grandjean, P. A Retrospective Study of PBDE’s and PCB’s in Human Milk from the Faroe Island. Environ Health 2005 and Grandjean, P Umbilical Cord Mercury Concentration as a Biomarker of Prenatal Exposure to Methylmercury. Environ Health Perspect 2005 (113) and Landrigan, PJ. The National Children’s Study, a Critical National Investment. Environ Health Perspect 2004, Oct. 16 Kovacs, C. Vitamin D in pregnancy and lactation: maternal, fetal, and neonatal outcomes from human and animal studies. Am J Clin Nutr 2008;88(suppl):520S– 8S. 17 EPA’s Total Exposure Assessment Methodology (TEAM) studies found levels of about a dozen common organic pollutants to be 2 to 5 times higher inside homes than outside, regardless of whether the homes were located in rural or highly industrial areas. Additional TEAM studies indicate that while people are using products containing organic chemicals, they can expose themselves and others to very high pollutant levels, and elevated concentrations can persist in the air long after the activity is completed. 18 For more information about infant vaccines and possible alternative schedules, see Sears, Robert W. The Vaccine Book (Little, Brown 2007).
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Custom Allergen Free Prescriptions PURE Compounding Pharmacy meets your needs by making unique dosage forms that contain ingredients that work for you! We make prescription medications without allergens or artificial additives. We prepare prescriptions in many different forms such as liquids, capsules, suppositories, topical creams and gels. We specialize in prescriptions for the treatment of Autism, ADD, ADHD, Asthma, Allergies, and Colitis. Please call us with your specialty compounding needs. Our compounded prescriptions are free of dyes, wheat, gluten, corn, soy, dairy, casein, yeast, stearates, nuts, eggs, shellfish, excitotoxins, artificial sweeteners, colors or flavors. Our ingredients meet the highest standards for purity. www.purecompounding.com firstname.lastname@example.org
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