When your best friend’s doctor says, “I’m sorry, but the symptoms your child is exhibiting point to a diagnosis of Autism and just how the condition will progress is unknown. In fact we are not even sure what causes it,” what are you thinking?
What Is Autism?
Autism, and Autistic Spectrum Disorders (ASD) consist of a range of developmental delays or interruptions in a child’s brain growth. It affects families to the core.
Parents who see delays and interruptions negatively affect their child’s social interaction, hamper communication, alter behaviors and interests, are often overwhelmed. And when they have two or three affected children the confusion, frustration and time demands are almost unbearable.
Affected children may exhibit intellectual disabilities and severe behavioral challenges. An affected child’s ability to function in society is very difficult at best, even with full time help. In extreme cases the dysfunction is so severe institutionalization seems the only rational choice.
The Autism Rate Is Skyrocketing
The rate of Autism in the US has risen from 1 case in 10,000, in 1981 to 1 case in 68 in 2014. That’s a 147 times greater autism occurrence, here in the US. That’s a 14,700% increase since 1981. All of this is occurring while European Autism rates holding steady? It’s no wonder the jump is leading researchers to examine why.(1)
University of Chicago scientists look now to environmental toxins including mercury as a likely cause.
How Can A Toxin Affect The Autism Rate?
Our DNA or our genetic make-up could be the link between toxins, illnesses and disease. Our genes determine how all of the building blocks of our bodies are formed and assembled, like the construction plans for a house.
One way environmental toxins can affect genes is by what is called a mutation, changing genes permanently, altering the plans after construction has started.
Toxins can also act as gene switches, turning various genes “on” or “off” for a period of time, creating a wide range of effects during growth and development. It’s like a sheet of the construction plans being ripped out of the set and another one substituted as your body is being assembled.
The amount of damage caused depends on when the plans are altered and how significant the changes are.
Why Do Some Families Have More Than One Autistic Child?
Advances in medicine as result of the study of the human genome are occurring everyday. One particular gene shows promise for predicting mercury toxicity sensitivity (APOE gene).
Unfortunately with the cost of individual genetic tests being so high, wholesale genetic screening is still impractical. An individual’s sensitivity, along with the timing and quantity of mercury exposures, may explain the frequency and severity of ASD symptoms.
With environmental toxin exposures being so plentiful, more research is needed to rank individual toxins and explore the complexities of genetic susceptibility.
Environmental Toxins Are Not All External
Let’s look next at your environment on a more intimate level, one much closer to home, your internal environment, the one you carry around with you. Should you do a little “internal” environmental clean-up before becoming pregnant?
You are aware when pregnant, your precious “bun-in-the-oven” baby is incredibly sensitive to your exposure to all sorts of environmental toxins. You’ve read about it and listened to stories, but don’t ignore the cautions.
You know to avoid mercury in fish (3), and broken compact fluorescent light bulbs.
“Are all exposures to toxic mercury so important?” Yes, in my opinion and the timing of those exposures is also critical to a healthy baby. Avoid mercury poisoning by being ultra careful.
We used to think only the first trimester of your baby’s development was the one of greatest sensitivity to toxic influences. That’s why your doctor cautions you to avoid exposure to alcohol, caffeine and any drugs, prescription or otherwise as soon as you suspect you are pregnant. Now we are finding out that the second trimester baby is critical too.(1)
Mercury A Critical Internal Environmental Toxin
Dental fillings, of the mercury containing type, are an internal environmental source of toxins. They leak mercury constantly from the day they are placed in your mouth. They spew mercury vapor fumes that you inhale and absorb. And if you are seriously concerned about toxic mercury exposure, get rid of mercury containing silver fillings before you become pregnant.
Researchers show that the amount of mercury in umbilical cord blood increases with the number of mercury fillings in the mother.(2) That means mom’s with more mercury containing dental fillings send more mercury to their developing baby.
How Do You Protect Yourself and Your Baby?
I would caution you to avoid mercury containing fillings when having any new dental treatment. If you already have mercury silver fillings, consider their removal long before you become pregnant.
As a dentist, I never used mercury fillings when caring for my children because of my concern for their health and the children my daughter’s may bear in the future. I also removed all of my wife’s mercury fillings safely, because of mercury’s association with Alzheimer’s disease and other neurological diseases. I’ve done the same for my sister and her husband. He is a Gulf War veteran concerned about Gulf War Syndrome, and he appears to be doing much better. My concern for my own family carries into all of my recommendations for you to consider.
By the way, I’ve had all of my own mercury fillings removed too.
I am probably being a little paranoid about exposure to toxic substances. It’s just that I tend to avoid arsenic, lead, uranium and aluminum exposures as much as is practical in addition to mercury. It’s just me. I would rather you be cautious than careless, so continue to do more of your own research and adjust your thinking as you see fit.
In Summary-Change Your Internal Environment Now
If you have mercury silver fillings, remove them safely prior to becoming pregnant. That would be ideal. If you are already pregnant, do not have them removed during pregnancy.
If you are not sure if you have mercury containing fillings ask your dentist. If she says don’t worry about them, you may want to look for another dentist as an option.
Although any dentist can remove mercury fillings, only a small number of dentists have concerns about mercury filling toxicity. And even fewer know how to remove mercury fillings safely with your health in mind.
A holistic or biological dentist understands the safest way to remove mercury containing fillings. They can do this carefully so you are not recontaminated during the removal process. Mercury is a material that needs to be treated with caution.
Share this information with a friend or two. They have probably never heard of it. If you are looking for a holistic or biological dentist near you to answer questions go to: www.holisticdentalinstitute.com
2. J Expo Sci Environ Epidemiol. 2008 May;18(3):326-31. Epub 2007 Sep 12.
3. Pediatr Neurol. 2014 Jul;51(1):93-9. doi: 10.1016/j.pediatrneurol.2014.03.018. Epub 2014 Mar 27.