Autism & The Environment
October 3, 2011
I have long held that genetics alone or vaccines are unlikely to account for the massive change in the incidence of autism, ADHD and other neurobehavioral disorders of our society. Genetic changes are slow. On the other hand epigenetic changes, environmentally induced, are relatively fast, i.e. one generation.
Supporting this belief, let us look at a study in the American Journal of Psychiatry from July 2011. The researchers looked at inherited versus environmental effects in twins in California. One of the twins had to have a strict diagnosis of autism for enrollment in the study.
The results showed that in the twin groups, the concordance rates* of autism were higher in the shared environment group than the genetic factors group.
What this means is that the environment of the child in utero and post-nataly has a huge effect on the development of autism spectrum disorders. In my simple mind, I try and think of ways to mitigate this risk. Since we do not know the answer to the why, let us try to go back to natural paradigms before autism became such an issue.
Think about the maternal health article from letter 34, 35. All of the principles of maternal self care are likely to slow the environmental triggers down. Eat healthy, avoid chemicals, reduce stress, exercise daily and so on.
*Concordance as used in genetics usually means the presence of the same trait in both members of a pair of twins. However, the strict definition is the probability that a pair of individuals will both have a certain characteristic, given that one of the pair has the characteristic. For example, twins are concordant when both have or both lack a given trait. Ideally, concordance includes that of identical twins.
My take home point today: Our personal environment is the key to future health.
Surround yourself with natural things and project happiness,