Archive for January, 2012
Most vaccinations no longer use the preservative thimerosal, with the exception of some flu vaccinations. This makes expectant parents, even those who plan on immunizing their children, wary of getting a flu shot. Research has indicated that it is still advisable for pregnant women to receive a flu shot.
First of all, when an adult gets a flu shot they help protect infants who are two young to receive a vaccination. Secondly, a vaccinated mother can pass along protective antibodies to her unborn child, which has the potential of protecting him or her after birth. Finally, if a woman does get the flu, then she is at higher risk of also contracting pneumonia which lowers blood oxygen levels, thus depriving a developing fetus of an essential component for healthy growth.
As far as researchers know, there is no single identifiable cause of autism. The working theory is that there are multiple causes of autism, some environmental and some genetic. Evidence published in 2011 suggests that abnormalities in brain structure and biochemical makeup may be to blame, or at least may be an indicator that a child is on the spectrum.
The study proposed that about 20 percent of autism is caused by biological issues including prenatal thalidomide or contraction of rubella during pregnancy. The brains of these children develop abnormally early in life, with the brain remaining one or two percent larger than a non-autistic brain. The study also found abnormalities in the cerebral cortex of some autistic children’s brains.
Candida is yeast that resides in human mouths and intestinal tracts. The yeast is nothing to be alarmed about, unless its numbers explode, thus throwing the body off-balance. In women, this can result in a yeast infection. In men and women it can also lead to “leaky gut.”
A simple lemon Candida cleanse can restore natural balance within your digestive system. All you would need to do is boil two cups of water, pour in two tablespoons of lemon juice, a pinch of cayenne pepper, and a dash of maple syrup. Drink this mixture several times a day for two weeks for a fully cleansed system.
Last summer a study found that there was a spike in birth defects in Appalachian communities near mountaintop coal mining sites. When the mountaintops are blasted to get to the coal below, mercury, lead, arsenic and other toxins are released into the air. We already know that birth defects mercury poisoning is a big deal, but the study stopped short of laying the blame solely on mountaintop mining.
The study acknowledged that women in these rural communities are less likely to have access to quality prenatal healthcare. This, too, can lead to birth defects. That being said, the author of the study emphasized that mountaintop coal mining is certainly detrimental to the health of all people in the vicinity, not just pregnant women; although, their unborn children are particularly vulnerable.
As I was winding down on Sunday evening I had “60 Minutes” playing in the background. My ears perked up when the interviewer started a segment about Jake Barnett, a math prodigy who is proud of his autism. At only 13 years of age he attends college – he began auditing classes when he was 8 – and does paid scientific research.
In the interview he seemed very outgoing, like a typical 10 year-old, albeit with an incredible gift. This belies the fact that at age two he began regressing and was diagnosed with autism. His parents got him all sorts of autism treatments, but what helped most was allowing him to follow his math and science passions. In the interview Jake said, “I believe [autism] is the reason why I am in college and I am so successful. It is the rise as to my love for math and science and astronomy. And it’s the reason why I care. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have gotten this far.”
All of last week, BBC South featured stories on high functioning autistic individuals. Though each profile focused on an individual, the experiences of those individuals represent the struggles of many. For example, 28 year-old Alex Jordan described feeling like a prisoner due to her autism. Through the UK’s universal healthcare she likely received autism therapy and continues to work with medical and social workers.
Lots of rules have been set in place to try to protect her. For instance, she is not supposed to go out by herself because she was hit seven times in one year while trying to cross the road. Her autism skews her perception of moving vehicles; cars don’t move fluidly – they can “jump” – and exhaust appears colored which can be disorienting. Still, the young woman described trying to keep a positive attitude and “looking forward to the good things.”
Currently, autism is diagnosed based on behavioral symptoms. There is no definitive biological test that can be performed to say “yes your child has autism” or “no your child does not have autism. Thankfully, autism research is being done to identify genetic markers.
Finding genetic markers will help in two ways: first, it will help increase the likelihood of getting a correct diagnosis early on when therapy can be effective, and second, knowing the source will take researchers one step closer to the cure. Last April, GW researchers found 18 novel genetic variants which may help with diagnostic screening. This month, another research team in Florida found preliminary results that suggest certain genetic markers that involve T-cells can help identify autistic individuals.
A new study conducted at Kaiser Permanente Northern California found preliminary indications that women who take antidepressants during pregnancy are more likely to give birth to a child on the autism spectrum. Lisa Croen, Ph.D., lead author of this piece of autism news emphasized that causality cannot be detected from one study, but her research does suggest that the area is worth investigating.
Early on in pregnancy serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) can be risky. These types of SSRIs are found in well-known antidepressants, including Zoloft and Prozac. This is not to say that all pregnant women suffering from depression should go off their medications. Mental illnesses left untreated can negatively affect pregnancies too, so each woman should consult her doctor before making a drastic change.
When it comes to researching autism, most of the emphasis is placed on better diagnostics, therapies, and cures – as it should be. However, when a child is diagnosed on the spectrum, it is the whole family, particularly the parents, that are affected. One myth about parents that has perpetuated is that couples with an autistic child are more likely to divorce. The urban legend has the divorce rate at 80 percent.
A recent study has debunked this myth. A study of 78,000 children from the 2007 National Survey of Children’s Health showed that 64 percent of autistic children have married parents, compared with 65 percent of children not on the spectrum. This bit of autism information should help relieve some anxieties for couples with children on the spectrum.