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Connecting the Dots Between Autism and Your Health

Whether it’s pesticides in grain, hormones in dairy or fracking chemicals seeping into water supplies, we are vulnerable to serious health risks.

The state of science on all industrial outputs that contribute to health risk is nowhere near what it needs to be. The reason? Whether it’s fracking or GMOs or other novel toxins, government regulators tend to rely for safety studies on the very industries that proffer these toxins. And that includes medical industry products, aka drugs, treatments, and perhaps even vaccinations.

The Scientific Void

Many toxic ingredients are never studied at all. Nor does science look into what specifically happens when people are exposed to many different chemicals over time. A new study conducted by the Harvard School of Public Health finds increased incidence of autism in babies born to families exposed to high air pollution (as measured by the EPA).

This study is the tip of the iceberg, revealing that what we don’t know about toxic exposures is hurting our children. This research published in the June 2013 edition of  Environmental Health Perspectives is an important link in an emerging chain of scientific evidence. But it’s just a beginning. Children with autism and their families deal with this severe health challenge in a near void of science. And they are not the only ones who can’t get their minds around the range of pollutant contributing to health issues. 
Most diseases, like cancer, come on gradually and imperceptibly over time, making it impossible to connect a toxic exposure to a specific symptom or disease. This makes it harder for most people to fully grasp how toxins undermine health across the board. Autism is clearly the exception. In autism, often parents report health problems springing up immediately following vaccination. 

Unfortunately, science isn’t very far ahead of the average person. When a toxin, heavy metal or endocrine disrupter interacts with a baby’s biology in utero, infancy, or early childhood, the effects can be more far-reaching and ongoing than what an exposed adult might experience. Just as a plant seedling sends out a tiny tendril that evolves into stem, root, leaf and flower, so do tiny humans grow and specialize their parts, systems and functions most intensively in the earliest years of life. At least from conception, outside outputs can and do regularly enter and intervene in that biological evolution. 

Whether it’s pesticides in grain, hormones in dairy, fracking chemicals seeping into water supplies, volatile organic compounds in the air, endocrine disrupters in personal care, or as the Harvard researchers found diesel, particulate matter and mercury from nearby traffic, a range of material outputs skew or derail the child’s delicate growth process.

Nesting in the Environment

Although we Americans like to think of ourselves as self-determining individuals, we are more like those Russian dolls, nested within a chain of being. A child’s biological exposures begin when she is nested in her mother’s womb. When the Environmental Working Group (EWG) found that children were born “pre-polluted” with over 200 industrial chemicals, the unstated obvious is how these chemicals got there. The baby wasn’t cooking with Teflon or ingesting pesticides or grasping BPA saturated store receipts. The person exposed to a whole range of persistent and accumulating chemicals was Mom.

And these chemicals were downloaded into Baby in utero. Even the quality of Mom’s eggs and Dad’s sperm, the magic ingredients that made Baby, are not immune to industrial outputs. That doesn’t necessarily make Mom and Dad the culprits for Baby’s exposure. Because Mom and Dad are nested within the larger environment, where these chemicals, many of them unavoidable, circulate. The problem is that exposure to these infinitesimal outputs is constant and cumulative, while science is singular and slow. It studies one thing at a time.

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