The Disturbing Link Between Autism & Environmental Toxins

The prevalence of autism spectrum disorders in the United States is now 1%, or 1 in 110 children 8 years of age. Boys are four times more likely to suffer from Autism than girls.

As a mother of two young boys, I worry about Autism.

I personally would like to better understand the link between environmental factors, which I have some degree of control over, and my boys’ risk of being diagnosed with Autism. In that spirit, whenever there appears to be a legitimate, fact-based article exploring those links and giving practical tips on how to avoid toxins, I read it carefully. Dr. Stephen Barrie, ND, a Naturopathic Doctor, penned an article that ran on The Huffington Post yesterday. It was well researched, articulate, and eye-opening.

The article is probably best summed up by a quote from Dr. Linda Birnbaum, Director of the National Institute of Environmental Health: “Research supported by NIEH has clearly shown that it is not just genetics that causes neuro-developmental disorders such as autism but rather the interplay of both genes and the environment.” In other words, it is possible that, in children with a genetic predisposition towards Autism, environmental factors trigger the condition. Environmental culprits include: lead paint, tobacco smoke, cleaning products, pesticides and other chemicals, like BPAs.

The article goes on to offer practical tips for minimizing your family’s exposure to toxic chemicals, which are implicated in Autism and other neuro disorders like ADHD. They were somewhat helpful. But I thought it would be more useful to go one extra step and outline more specific actions you can take in each area, which is what I did in the chart below.

The bottom line is this: you can organize your kitchen, cleaning closet, and schedule to minimize the toxins your kids are exposed to without that much extra work. Stop using plastic food containers, allow nothing but natural cleaning products in your home, and get your schedule organized to so that you do more from-scratch cooking. Hardly surprising takeaways, but somehow knowing that I have a degree of control makes me feel better.