Monday, December 13, 2010

Autism and the Environment

Last week our Green Street radio show was about autism, We talked with a leading researcher about possible environmental links and we talked with the VP of a non-profit organization about the things being done to help parents of autistic kids. It was both inspiring and frightening.

As we watch our grandson grow up, we are reminded of just how much work it is to raise a child, and how invested parents become in the health and welfare of their children. The possibility that your three-year-old child begin to regress and withdraw as the symptoms of autism appear is something we all have to live with.

The link to vaccinations seems to have been mostly dispelled by the research, although doubt lingers among many parents of autistic children because of the significant anecdotal evidence noting the proximity of vaccinations to the first signs of autism. But there are other factors coming to light.

Prenatal exposures are getting particular scrutiny, including viruses and ultra-sound procedures. And of course, chemical exposures from airborne toxins, nutritional deficiencies, personal care products and food are always on the list of suspects.

"I don't think that any case is due to a single exposure or a single gene," Dr. Irva Hertz-Picciotto of the University of California at Davis told us. "Every [autistic] child has probably been affected by several genes and several environmental factors."

You can hear the whole show at