It’s no secret that autism and ADHD rates are skyrocketing. Every single year we see dramatic increases in diagnoses of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) or ADHD, and with these observed increases comes a need for more awareness and education about how these diagnoses are most often made and what environmental factors are contributing to the problem. These will be explained below.
Autism Could Go Well Beyond Just Genetic Factors
“Children today are sicker than they were a generation ago. From childhood cancers to autism, birth defects and asthma, a wide range of childhood diseases and disorders are on the rise. Our assessment of the latest science leaves little room for doubt; pesticides are one key driver of this sobering trend.” – October 2012 report by Pesticide Action Network North America (PANNA) (source)(source)
In recent years a wealth of information has emerged which has entirely changed the way we think about these disorders. Although the cause for autism is unclear and it is highly unlikely researchers will ever find one single explanation for its development, it is becoming increasingly evident that autism may be the result of the modern day human lifestyle. There are a number of significant studies that should be ringing alarm bells in the medical and scientific communities in this regard.
A couple of years ago, Andrey Rzhetsky, Professor of Genetic Medicine and Human Genetics at the University of Chicago, published a study in the journal PLOS Computational Biology with researchers at the University of Chicago; it revealed that autism and intellectual disability (ID) rates are linked to exposure to harmful environmental factors during congenital development. His team looked at data that covered one third of the United States population, as well as more than 21 countries. They found that environmental lead, medications, and a large variety of other synthetic molecules (like pesticides, mercury, aluminum and more) all wreak havoc on the fetus. These substances were also linked with congenital malformations of male genitalia, which is strongly correlated with autism. He explains that “during pregnancy there are certain sensitive periods where the fetus is very vulnerable to a range of small molecules . . . [and] some of these small molecules essentially alter normal development.” (source)(source)
Another study, from the University of California, Davis, determined that pregnant women who live in close proximity to land and farms where chemical pesticides are/were applied experience a two-thirds increased risk of having a child with autism spectrum disorder or some other developmental disorder.
The study examined associations between pesticides — including organophosphates (a main ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide) — that were applied during the participants’ pregnancies and a later diagnosis of autism or developmental delay in their children.
The study was published online this summer in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives.(1) It concluded that proximity to organophosphates alone, at some point during gestation, was associated with a 60% increased risk for ASD:
This study validates the results of earlier research that had reported associations between having a child with autism and prenatal exposure to agricultural chemicals in California. While we still must investigate whether certain sub-groups are more vulnerable to exposures to these compounds than others, the message is very clear: Women who are pregnant should take special care to avoid contact with agricultural chemicals whenever possible. – Janie F. Shelton, a UC Davis graduate student who now consults with the United Nations; lead author of the study (source)
Many people like to criticize these observations with the argument that correlation does not mean causation, but they fail to use the Bradford Hill Criteria and consider just how much information correlates with the evidence at hand.
“How could we have ever believed that it was a good idea to grow our food with poisons? . . . As part of the process, they portrayed the various concerns as merely the ignorant opinions of misinformed individuals — and derided them as not only unscientific, but anti-science. They then set to work to convince the public and government officials, through the dissemination of false information, that there was an overwhelming expert consensus, based on solid evidence, that GMOs were safe.” – Jane Goodall
The list of concerns brought up by these researchers is long, as is the list of studies that explore this topic extensively. We’ve written about this multiple times, and you can find more information to further your research by going through the following articles:
What Parents Need To Know About Monsanto: “By 2025 One In Two Children Will Be Autistic“
Again, there are multiple factors in our surrounding environment that could be contributing to the prevalence of autism.
Autism Is A Broad Spectrum
Autism comprises an extremely broad spectrum of symptoms; your child could be diagnosed with an ASD without ever displaying abnormalities in their behaviour, while on the other end of the spectrum, your child might be unable to communicate at all. It has also been suggested that some cases of autism might even represent an evolutionary leap, since many people diagnosed with ASDs display some remarkable abilities, and are capable of intellectual feats the likes of which few could achieve. Some children who have been diagnosed with an ASD might even have an ability, rather than a disability, but our limiting use of language and labels has prevented us from recognizing these children. A child who has been diagnosed with autism in school, for example, will immediately be labelled as disabled and seen in that light by their teachers and peers; they will then carry the burden of lowered expectations for the rest of their lives.
ADHD diagnoses tell a similar story.
Most of these children are diagnosed based on behaviour rather than physiology; rarely is a child’s brain scanned to determine if there is a real problem. If a child has trouble paying attention to something they are not interested in, they may be diagnosed with ADHD. If a child has trouble ‘socializing’ in a ‘normal’ fashion they can also be labelled, even though no physical differences in brain structure have been identified.
Did They Tell You This About The Pharmaceutical Industry?
The quote above comes from Harvard Medical Professor and former Editor-in-Chief of The New England Journal of Medicine, Dr. Marcia Angell. She joins a long and growing list of some very ‘credible’ people within the medical profession who are trying to tell the world something important. She has said on several occasions that it is no longer possible to believe much of the published research, or even to rely on the judgement of trusted physicians or authoritative medical guidelines. (source)
Dr. Richard Horton, the current Editor-in-Chief of The Lancet —considered to be one of the top ranked medical journals in the world — has made a similar assertion, stating that “the case against science is straightforward, much of the scientific literature, perhaps half, may simply be untrue. . . . Science has taken a turn towards darkness.” (source)
The reason why these professionals are saying such things is because, as Dr. Angell puts it, “the pharmaceutical industry likes to depict itself as a research-based industry, as the source of innovative drugs. Nothing could be further from the truth. This is their incredible PR and their nerve.”
“The medical profession is being bought by the pharmaceutical industry, not only in terms of the practice of medicine, but also in terms of teaching and research. The academic institutions of this country are allowing themselves to be the paid agents of the pharmaceutical industry. I think it’s disgraceful.” – Arnold Seymour Relman, Harvard Professor of Medicine