Study: Autism Linked to Industrial Food, Environment







Study: Autism Linked to Industrial Food, Environment

(Common Dreams)  A new study by Clinical Epigenetics, a peer-reviewed journal that focuses largely on diseases, has found that the rise in autism in the United States could be linked to the industrial food system, specifically the prevalence of high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) in the American diet. The study, published yesterday online, explores how mineral deficiencies could impact how the human body rids itself of common toxic chemicals like mercury and pesticides. The report comes just after a different report, from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, documented a startling rise in autism in the United States.

An autistic child (photo: Help with Autism)“To better address the explosion of autism, it’s critical we consider how unhealthy diets interfere with the body’s ability to eliminate toxic chemicals, and ultimately our risk for developing long-term health problems like autism.” said Dr. David Wallinga, a study co-author and physician at the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy.

The report’s key findings:


  • Autism and related disorders affect brain development. The current study sought to determine how environmental and dietary factors, like HFCS consumption, might combine to contribute to the disorder.
  • Consumption of HFCS, for example, is linked to the dietary loss of zinc, which interferes with the elimination of heavy metals from the body. Many heavy metals like mercury, arsenic and cadmium are potent toxins with adverse effects on brain development in the young.
  • HFCS consumption can also impact levels of other beneficial minerals, including calcium. Loss of calcium further exacerbates the detrimental effects of exposure to lead on brain development in fetuses and children.
  • Inadequate levels of calcium in the body can also impair its ability to expel organophosphates, a class of pesticides long recognized by the EPA and independent scientists as especially toxic to the young developing brain.

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Clinical Epigenetics: Abstract

The number of children ages 6 to 21 in the United States receiving special education services under the autism disability category increased 91 % between 2005 to 2010 while the number of children receiving special education services overall declined by 5 %. The demand for special education services continues to rise in disability categories associated with pervasive developmental disorders. Neurodevelopment can be adversely impacted when gene expression is altered by dietary transcription factors, such as zinc insufficiency or deficiency, or by exposure to toxic substances found in our environment, such as mercury or organophosphate pesticides. Gene expression patterns differ geographically between populations and within populations. Gene variants of paraoxonase-1 are associated with autism in North America, but not in Italy, indicating regional specificity in gene-environment interactions. In the current review, we utilize a novel macroepigenetic approach to compare variations in diet and toxic substance exposure between these two geographical populations to determine the likely factors responsible for the autism epidemic in the United States.

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Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy: Study Links Autism with Industrial Food, Environment

The epidemic of autism in children in the United States may be linked to the typical American diet according to a new study published online in Clinical Epigenetics by Renee Dufault, et. al. The study explores how mineral deficiencies—affected by dietary factors like high fructose corn syrup (HFCS)—could impact how the human body rids itself of common toxic chemicals like mercury and pesticides.

The release comes on the heels of a report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that estimates the average rate of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) among eight year olds is now 1 in 88, representing a 78 percent increase between 2002 and 2008. Among boys, the rate is nearly five times the prevalence found in girls.

“To better address the explosion of autism, it’s critical we consider how unhealthy diets interfere with the body’s ability to eliminate toxic chemicals, and ultimately our risk for developing long-term health problems like autism.” said Dr. David Wallinga, a study co-author and physician at the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP).

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