Scientists warn of chemical-autism link
June 7th, 2011
06:43 PM ET

Scientists warn of chemical-autism link

Autism and environmental health experts called for greater scrutiny of chemicals found in the environment, which could potentially lead to autism and other neurodevelopmental disorders, in a conference call Tuesday.

"We live, breathe and start our families in the presence of toxic chemical mixtures and constant low-level toxic exposures, in stark contrast to the way chemicals are tested for safety," said Donna Ferullo, Director of Program Research at The Autism Society.

"Lead, mercury, and other neurotoxic chemicals have a profound effect on the developing brain at levels that were once thought to be safe," she said.

Autism spectrum disorders are being diagnosed at unprecedented rates, partly because of improved diagnostic tools and criteria, but also a host of other factors including what mothers-to-be are exposed and consequently their unborn children too, said Irva Hertz-Piccotto, Chief of the Division of Environmental Health at the University of California, Davis, and a faculty member at the Mind Institute.

About 1 in 110 children in the United States has autism, a group of developmental disorders that lead to impairments in behavior, communication and socialization. The cost of autism is staggering: $3.2 million for the care of a person with autism throughout his or her life; behavioral therapy can be hard to come by and be very limited,  and most medications don't help much.

Studies have strongly suggested a genetic component in the cause of autism, but it's becoming clear that genetics alone isn't the whole story; there could be interactions between susceptibility genes and environmental chemicals.

Recent research from her group, appearing in the journal Epidemiology, showed that prenatal vitamins taken prior to conception seem to interact with certain metabolizing genes that are inherited.  Those women who did not take the vitamins, and had the high-risk genotypes, were more likely to have a child with autism.  Still, this was a small study limited in scope, and more research should be done to confirm these findings.

The central nervous system of the fetus is sensitive to a wide range of chemicals, Hertz-Piccotto said.  Hormones, such as estrogens and androgens, are essential for proper brain development. Endocrine-disrupting compounds need more research, she said. Flame-retardant chemicals called PBDEs interfere with the body's hormones.  Even though many of them are no longer used in manufacturing, they can hang around in the environment and the human body for a long time.  The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is aware of concerns about these chemicals and is working on accessing substitutions (see the action plan).

Bisphenol A, present in plastic food packaging and water bottles, among other products, is another big concern, she said, because it could interfere with the body's natural estrogen system; antimicrobials added to soaps, toothpaste and other products can artificially enhance androgenic activity.

"That means that they could potentially play a role in autism or other neurodevelopmental disorders," Hertz-Piccotto said.

Moreover, many children with autism spectrum disorders have abnormal immune responses. The chemical messengers in the immune system interact with the receptors in the brain, so chemicals that affect immunity could also be implicated in autism.

Thyroid dysfunction is common in children with autism that psychiatrist Dr. Suruchi Chandra sees, even though that's not part of the classical symptoms of the condition.  She believes the abnormalities are due to the thyroid hormone disruptors such as BPA and flame retardants.

"Thyroid hormone is critical for brain development in early life, and even small alterations in hormone levels can have serious consequences; long-lasting and perhaps irreversible consequences in terms of brain function," she said.

Air pollution from traffic and certain pesticides have also been shown to have associations with autism, studies have shown.  Maternal conditions could partially result from chemicals in the environment.

Andy Igrejas, National Campaign Director of Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families, called for an update of the 1976 Toxic Substances Control Act. Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) has proposed a stricter version that would require all industrial chemicals to be tested for safety.

UPDATE: Since so many of you have asked, I wanted to clarify that this discussion does not relate to vaccines. The scientific evidence available has shown again and again that vaccines do not cause autism.

soundoff (2,292 Responses)
  1. MrHapiGuy

    Mercury is the autism trigger. Mercury based preservatives in vaccines is only one of so many ways a newborn or fetus can be exposed. It could be that mom ate too much fish, who knows. Amalgam dental fillings, anyone? Clean coal, yeah right. I have a 12 yr old autistic child, and I have done everything, read everything and seen it all for more than a decade. It's mercury, I am convinced.

    That being said, you can't single out vaccines. Supposedly they do not even have Thimerasol (mercury based preservative) in them anymore. That is like saying milk is bad because of the effects of bovine hormones. Buy organic milk.

    Get your vaccinations, but make sure they are mercury free.

    And educate yourselves about other ways of exposure to mercury.

    June 8, 2011 at 16:17 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Tom

      Unfortunately there is no such thing as vaccine without thymerisol. The vaccines are "thymerisol free". The FDA lobbied the Govt. a few years ago to change the definition of "free" in relation to food and vaccination. "Free" now means below a certian level. Just like "fat free" and "cholesterol free", it is still in there but to a level that they are not legaly bound to putting it on the label.

      June 8, 2011 at 16:37 | Report abuse |
  2. Tom

    Wow. There are a lot of "experts" leaving comments who are NOT experts or Doctors. It is interesting how so many are quoting "junk science" and claiming that the "scientific research" has PROVEN there is no link between autism and vaccinations. How many of you have ACTUALLY READ the research papers and not the abstracts or what has been presented to you in the media? I would bet none. This article represents the stupidity of main stream thinking. So we need to be cautious of "environmental toxins like mercury and lead because they may contribute to autism" but it is in no way a problem to take those same things and inject them directly into the bloodstream...bypasing all primary defense systems of the child? Do you hear what you are saying? Most people here are misunderstanding the point that the issue is not with vaccination and helping the immunity of your child/ the community, it is with the other toxins that are involved with the shot. While we are at it, how are those cell phones doing that the "research proved" were safe? Give that another 5 years and OH my gosh...they cause cancer!! So that insert in the phone package that says the cell radiation acts similar to a microwave wasn't a joke? But, but the news said it was ok!!!! Wake up! Let the experts begin the attack....,

    June 8, 2011 at 16:18 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Shane

      So are you an expert? Because it sounds like you are in favor of supporting research that claims there is a link between vaccinations and autism. Research, which by the way, was completely debunked and falsified and even the researcher who performed said research admitted it was wrong and that he had accepted money to find that autism was linked to vaccinations. I'm not an expert, but I have read the articles and have had many discussions with expets about them while recieving my BA in Psychology.

      June 8, 2011 at 16:58 | Report abuse |
  3. Summer819

    It seems they should wait to publish reports or possibilities until they come up with more support behind the theories. It seems we often fall prey to articles such as this, everyone goes into a panic only to be told months or even years later, "well, there isn't a link afterall". Not to say there isn't substantial evidence to link environmental chemicals to autism nor am I saying we shouldn't report anything to the general public. There should simply be more caution before sharing opinions or possibilities until they know of a strong link. Yes, we want to stay safe and want to know that any given item may cause autism, cancer, etc, but whether we know today when they aren't quite sure or three months after more data is collected isn't going to change any given person's health.

    June 8, 2011 at 16:18 | Report abuse | Reply
    • D

      I disagree with this. People need to be informed about *potential* causes of disease so that they can take possibly preventative steps to avoid exposure to chemicals that have not been proven to be safe.

      June 8, 2011 at 17:00 | Report abuse |
  4. Jim

    People only SEE what they already BELIEVE.

    June 8, 2011 at 16:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. dc4sense

    I think many associate vaccines with autism because many chaildren that were normal, changed after being vaccinated. Can this correlation be ignored?

    June 8, 2011 at 16:25 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Mom of Aspie

      You're all right, it shouldn't be ignored. Mercury, environment, etc. They are all contributing factors, but I have one child with and one without Autism Spectrum Disorder. The one with is firtsborn. Same doctor, both c-section, both vaccinated. The only difference is with one I was given Petocin to induce labor and the other I wasn't. You tell me?? Some families have ALL their children on the spectrum. Some have one and of course some have none. It's still a roll of the dice.

      June 8, 2011 at 16:49 | Report abuse |
    • Shane

      Your both right, cause you know, one day I was fine and I ate an apple, and the next day I was sick. It HAD to of been the apple, that is the only explination possible... hopefully you catch the extreme lack of logic there

      June 8, 2011 at 17:09 | Report abuse |
  6. mediacrasher

    Hmmm? Let's see? Some Vaccines over the decades were known to have Thimerasol, mercury, formaldehyde, aborted fetal tissue, green monkey kidney tissues and lord only knows what else and the Sheeple on this board refuse to accept how deadly vaccines and chemicals can be on a a fetus and the very young. My people raised me and my family organically and no signs of autism present. But sorry to wake you, you can go back to sleep.

    June 8, 2011 at 16:31 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Shane

      Me and my family were raised "in-organically" (I guess would be the term), we ate food that had preservatives, watched tv, used plastics, got all our vaccinations and everything else... and yet, there is no autism or any type of mental disorder in any part of my family. Funny how your logic suddenly doesn't hold up. You can't honestly believe that your isolated experience will relate of transfer to everyone else. So it would be better to rely on research, and research points the opposite direction of you.

      June 8, 2011 at 17:13 | Report abuse |
  7. Curious

    why haven't there been studies on where kids are born and raised. Why does New Jersey have the highest rate of autism? Is it because they have more programs for autistic student and therefore people move there............. or is it because more New Jersey children have this disease and therefore there are more programs? Where is the study?

    June 8, 2011 at 16:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. rusted314

    Out pediatrician tells us Autism is linked to cows milk and has advised my wife to not have any cow's milk products when breastfeeding and to use a whey based formula when supplementing. Anyone else hear the cows milk theory?

    June 8, 2011 at 16:34 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Sandy

      Change doctors. Seriously. Cow's milk? Women have been drinking cow's milk for generations and baby formulas used to be made with it, yet the spike in autism is recent. I think the closest this could be to true is if the milk leached chemicals out of the plastic bottle it is stored in - but so many things are stored in plastic it makes zero sense to point to milk. If you really like the doctor ask him/her to explain.

      June 8, 2011 at 16:46 | Report abuse |
    • toddflanders

      This theory is not remotely based in science. Bad advice from a quack with an agenda.

      June 8, 2011 at 16:47 | Report abuse |
    • Norma

      I'd be wary of whey – it's from COW"S MILK!!

      June 8, 2011 at 16:49 | Report abuse |
    • Steve

      BS. My whole family, including myself, grew up drinking cows milk. Not a single case of autism....

      June 8, 2011 at 16:52 | Report abuse |
    • CharlieB

      Cows milk causing Autism, sounds like the guy seems to have forgotten that before the incease of late in autism people drank more milk then they do now, although it could be all the drugs and horomones they feed to the cows now too.

      June 8, 2011 at 17:01 | Report abuse |
    • Stephanie

      Ask him the publications that support this conclusion. Odds are you can read the publications yourself. Alternatively, go & get a second opinion. I am not a doctor but i have never heard that milk caused autism. AFAIK, we are still in the dark ages when it comes to autism. We know there is a genetic component but that's about it. This research is interesting but you always need to give time for science to do its work. Other researchers may be unable to reproduce these findings. This would in effect invalid these results.

      June 8, 2011 at 17:09 | Report abuse |
    • hipster

      Cows milk is for baby cows.

      June 8, 2011 at 17:10 | Report abuse |
    • Momof4

      He probably did not mean the milk itself. Milk today is much different the milk of 30 years ago. There are plenty of chemicals given to the cows to increase milk production (extra hormones). Also the cows have been given antibiotics which show up in the milk as well. Antibiotics taken regularly can decrease your body's natural immune system by killing off the good bacteria in your body. why do I know all of this? Because as a mom of an autistic son I have to know what chemicals are in our foods and how to avoid them so his immune system can be as strong as possible. Just because you heard it from your doctor but don't understand WHY he said it, does not make him wrong. As to the statements made by others that they drank it and it did not affect them, please reread the article. It also requires a genetic predisposition for autism which you and your family members, luckily, probably do not have.

      June 8, 2011 at 17:15 | Report abuse |
    • me

      really? Are you poeple truly sheeple? come on. have any of you paid ANY attention to the drugs and hormones and poor diet that cows are getting today? its not the same milk we grew up drinking...pull your heads out..clearly none of you dismissing the milk theory have kids, or you just dont care...and hipster you are correct..cows milk is for baby cows....sheep...

      June 8, 2011 at 17:18 | Report abuse |
    • David Berkowitz

      We are a nonprofit and webizine for autism. I have been studying the causes of autism a bit, I am Asperger's and all 3 of my kids are autistic. I think that there may be a genetic tie it, as well. In regards to vaccines, I know many autistic people, and their parents whose kids have gotten worse, even my own after their vaccinations occurred. As far as milk, I doubt it.

      http://www.technewszone.com Autism Advocacy and Technology News Zone, inc.

      June 8, 2011 at 17:23 | Report abuse |
    • Angelique

      Yeah, sounds obvious to me that he was speaking of the bad stuff that ends up in the cows milk of today, not the dangers of the MILK itself.

      June 8, 2011 at 17:24 | Report abuse |
    • Sacrilicious

      Yeah, no. I NEVER gave my son milk products or milk and whammo – he has asperger's anyhow

      June 8, 2011 at 17:26 | Report abuse |
    • sdl

      me - You make assumptions. Maybe these things are causing problems, but you present no scientific evidence to back up your argument other than to call people sheeple. And people have been drinking cows milk for thousands of years. Some populations (primarily Europeans and some Africans) have digestive systems that allow them to process milk as adults - an adaption that allowed their ancestors to exploit another food source to survive in a harsher time when food might not be so readily available.

      June 8, 2011 at 17:32 | Report abuse |
    • LJ

      Cows are injected with hormones to make them produce as much milk as they do. He might be trying to tell your wife to avoid these hormones. BUT...an organic milk would do the trick, not sure why he is saying this.....ask more questions about why he believes this and then decide if he's a quack.... We are the only species that drinks another species milk, odd to think about, but not necessarily a bad thing.....

      June 8, 2011 at 17:42 | Report abuse |
    • notes

      Think of it this way: you need something that in 20 years has really increased to account for a 250% increase in autism.... chemicals like lead and mercury, infants today are exposed to way less than infants 20 years ago. And vaccinations rates are down from 20 years ago, not up 250%.
      My money is father's age has something to do with it: 20 years ago, 35-40 year old men didn't have children at the rate they do now. (like Downs syndrome and women over 35)

      June 8, 2011 at 17:47 | Report abuse |
    • manuel Rodriguez

      The milk from the the cow brings in a lot of the chemicals used on the cows beside hormones and antibiotics.

      June 8, 2011 at 17:58 | Report abuse |
    • Bertie

      Let me guess...Your Doctor is from a country that doesn't eat dairy?

      June 8, 2011 at 18:04 | Report abuse |
    • Momof4

      There is also a caseine and gluten free diet that many people use for their autistic children. Caseine is found in all milk products, and gluten is found in wheat, oats, and barley grains. This could also be what your pediatrician was referring to when speaking about milk.

      June 8, 2011 at 18:04 | Report abuse |
    • Jim

      There have been numerous studies demonstrating that dairy (casein protein/arachidonic acid) is linked to a number of diseases, including cancers. Though I'm not aware of any specific studies that link it to autism, cow's milk is certainly unhealthy and should be avoided.

      June 8, 2011 at 18:06 | Report abuse |
    • Cindy

      Cow's milk certainly isn't healthy. There has been scientific research that links it to a number of diseases, most notably cancer. Too much dairy also leaches calcium from the bones and can contribute to osteoperosis as we age. Ever wonder why the biggest dairy consumers in the World (US citizens) have a higher rate of osteoperosis than other countries that consume no or very little dairy? The dairy lobby has many brainless Americans convinced that milk is good for you. It isn't.

      June 8, 2011 at 18:11 | Report abuse |
    • Zena

      My autistic son was raised on soy-based milk products, not cows milk. Did I mention he was autistic? Your pediatrician is a quack.

      June 8, 2011 at 18:21 | Report abuse |
    • uhuhreally

      Where do you think Whey protein comes from???

      June 8, 2011 at 18:31 | Report abuse |
    • Elle Bee

      Maybe the the cows have autism...

      June 8, 2011 at 18:39 | Report abuse |
    • Realtime

      Common sense would tell you that your doctor is a quack. If cow's milk caused it, then autism would have been HIGHER in past decades than now, since the use of cow's milk for children has DECREASED due to the introduction of formulas, etc.

      June 8, 2011 at 18:41 | Report abuse |
    • Wzrd1

      OK, a few things.
      One, whey is protein from milk. It's actually used to make ricotta cheese, as well as a dairy solid for other foods.
      The only other things in milk, other than water, for the most part, are water, fats and lactose (milk sugar).
      To put it nicely, your doctor is a quack. One that you should RUN, not walk away from.
      Two issues can occur with cow milk, lactose intolerance, not very uncommon and milk allergy, an allergy to protein in milk, as in remember that whey?
      Honestly, I'm wondering if that doctor ACTUALLY HAS A DEGREE!

      June 8, 2011 at 18:42 | Report abuse |
    • ECMD

      I am a pediatrician and I've never heard of that. I keep myself up to date on news and studies related to autism (I have patients on the spectrum, as well as friends with children on the spectrum) and haven't seen anything related to this.
      Others have brought up the idea of the hormones and antibiotics given to cows – now that's a whole other story. The hormones and antibiotics in the foods we eat should (and I believe is) being investigated ...
      Please don't hold milk back from your children, and look on the label to see if they advertise the "no antibiotics / hormones"

      June 8, 2011 at 18:45 | Report abuse |
    • J

      The pH level of the individuals water weight needs to be mentioned here. I have personal experience with both severe multiple sclerosis and mild autism. Symptoms of both either disappeared completely requiring no meds (ms) or reduced to almost non noticeable levels (autism) by increasing the pH body water weight to natural levels (almost 13 months of success and counting). If treatment stops, pH level begins to drop and symptoms return, thus giving less support for the doctors that claim "placebo". We can't expect to maintain health if we consume more acid than we do alkaline, the body is a fish tank, don't treat sick fish, change the water 🙂

      June 8, 2011 at 18:47 | Report abuse |
    • Daniel

      When I grew up our milk came in glass bottles. Now they're plastic-there's a difference in flavor between products from glass and plastic bottles; but I can't say how it might affect cows' milk.

      June 8, 2011 at 18:57 | Report abuse |
  9. Debra

    This is nothing I haven't read or heard about before. Stop guessing and come up with an answer because many states still do not cover autism fighting over who should. I have a 5 year old boy with autism and tried everything within our means financially without losing our house. We have been blessed with him being diagnosed very early and he is considered high functioning now.

    June 8, 2011 at 16:35 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Russ

      How are they supposed to come up with an answer? They can't just make one up – the last time someone pulled a reason out of thin air we had 19 kids die of easily preventable whooping cough in California because their parents were afraid of vaccines. If you want a real answer, let them field theories and study. Only through continued, dedicated science will we know the real answer to what causes autism.

      June 8, 2011 at 17:17 | Report abuse |
    • Momof4

      Stay strong Debra. I know how hard it is and financially my husband and I have spent thousands of dollars over the years to help our son and give him the interventions he has needed. It is slow going and progress made is hard to see at times, but the hard work pays off. My son is 17 now and a junior in high school. He still has social difficulty making friends but he he is intelligent and well-educated. He can hold a conversation and speak appropriately. Understands everything but how to "be cool." (As for "cool", it is highly overrated and as he ages he will stand out less and less.) He makes excellent grades in a college preparatory school and is going to go to college and will be successful there as well. He would not be able to do any of this if we had not had an early diagnosis and early intervention. It has been a long, hard, financially draining, and exhausting road. But I would not change a thing – he has blessed our lives, and I would not be who I am today without having him in my life. Stay strong, and best of luck on your journey!

      June 8, 2011 at 17:27 | Report abuse |
    • Sacrilicious

      I agree that there should be insurance coverage to support families with autistic children. My insurance does to a point but that was after I already knew my son had asperger's. now, we're testing my daughter. the irony is my children are the same as me, my siblings and cousins as we grew up. some of us were born in the 70's, 80's and 90's yet, we're all almost identical in developmental behavior. at least, in the end, we all have high IQs...for whatever that's worth.....

      June 8, 2011 at 17:31 | Report abuse |
    • Momof4

      Russ – parents with an autistic child do not have time to "wait". We must act and act now to try and do everything we can to save our children that we have to help TODAY. I read everything and tried most of it and am glad I did. My son progressed and improved and will lead a normal life as a result. If I had simply WAITED he would barely be able to speak or communicate, and would not be where he is today.

      June 8, 2011 at 17:31 | Report abuse |
    • Wzrd1

      Stop guessing and make a guess? Nope, I'm sorry, but it doesn't work that way. They study, they study and they study some more. The problem is, brains are REAL complicated. Children are pretty much aliens, their physiology is unlike adults in many, many ways, parts are still forming, parts literally dissolve as they mature, other parts mature as they mature. The brain is in constant flux of change during maturing. So, we have two complicated sets of systems, a growing child, a maturing brain.
      Add to that the MILLIONS of things that can impact on development, it turns into a real complex puzzle.
      Thankfully, there is much more research funding, hence interest, on autism research than there are for quite a few other children's diseases, so there is a large group of researchers out there pulling their hair out in an attempt to find answers.
      Could it be pesticides? Pesticides are largely acetylcholinesterase inhibitors, which cause acetylcholine to stay bound to the nerve and the nerve "turned on".
      Maybe, maybe not. Not enough information, hence research.
      The same can be said of thousands of other chemicals and even parental exposures.

      So, the researchers grind on, all wishing that they could speed to an answer, knowing that they can't and probably won't find an answer themselves, but contribute to the whole of the knowledge that increases each year.

      As for high functioning, I have worked with many high functioning autistic people, the IT field is thick with them and they are excellent at their jobs. The only problem that I've run into was reminding them that the problem will remain for a half hour while we eat lunch.

      June 8, 2011 at 18:54 | Report abuse |
  10. Greg Dunbar

    Autism rates are much higher in older women who give birth than younger women. Could it be, perhaps because older women have lived a longer life and have been exposed to toxic chemicals for a much longer period of time?

    June 8, 2011 at 16:37 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Caroline Naluai

      Yes!!!! No one else gets this!!!!

      June 8, 2011 at 16:48 | Report abuse |
    • momma1

      I'm 24 and my 3 year old is autistic. Don't think that is a good theory at least in our case.

      June 8, 2011 at 17:03 | Report abuse |
    • D

      It is part of the answer but not the whole answer.

      June 8, 2011 at 17:03 | Report abuse |
    • autism mom

      I had my autistic son when I was 21.

      June 8, 2011 at 17:12 | Report abuse |
    • mike

      My wife was 19 when she had our son with autism. He is now 15. Many children with autism are born to young women. Don't see a connection here.

      June 8, 2011 at 17:12 | Report abuse |
    • Sacrilicious

      Nope, had my son at 19, daughter at 25 and my best friend had twin daughters at 27. so far, three of the four children mentioned are considered on the spectrum. One of whom is a twin with a sister who is starkly different than her. not unheard of but this is not a form of Down's Syndrome

      June 8, 2011 at 17:33 | Report abuse |
    • Momof4

      It is likely due to a combination of factors, and these factors can combine in women of any age...

      June 8, 2011 at 17:35 | Report abuse |
    • bepatienz

      Yes, advanced parental age at the time of conception does increase the risk of ASD, and no, a few anecdotes do not disprove this. About 11 per cent of the apparent increase in the prevalence of ASD is associated with increased parental age. The sort of mutations discussed in the several articles on the genetics of autism to be published tomorrow in Cell and in Neuron arise in the production of sperm and eggs and are more likely to arise in older parents, just as the chromosomal abnormality that causes Down syndrome becomes increasingly likely in children born to older mothers. This is further evidence that ASD begins early in fetal development, long before vaccination.

      June 8, 2011 at 17:36 | Report abuse |
    • notes

      Exceptions don't negate the trends of data. We accept that over the age of 35 women are more likely to have a Downs Syndrome child. So if a 25 years old has a child with Downs Syndrome, is that theory 100% wrong? Same is true for autism, the older the parents, the higher the likely hood of an autistic child. A 25 year old having an autistic child doesn't negate the fact its more likely in older parents and worth studying.

      June 8, 2011 at 18:55 | Report abuse |
  11. EB

    As a father of a 10-year old autistic boy and a career research scientist, this is the kind of reporting that seriously annoys me. This media report is alarmist and does not fit with sound scientific methodology.

    Dr. Irva Hertz-Piccotto has little more than a hypothesis. Quoting from the article above, "That means that they could potentially play a role in autism or other neurodevelopmental disorders," Hertz-Piccotto said.". The key operative word in that statement is potentially. Nice thinking, but it is at present nothing more than that.

    The studies suggested are admirable and needed, but extremely challenging. Numerous investigations on endocrine disruptors have, as a field, been largely inconclusive because of the technical difficulties faced in such studies. Until there are data in hand from well structured investigations with credible peer reviewed results, neither Hertz-Piccotto nor the popular media should "warn" of a chemical-autism link until credible, peer-reviewed research results indicate a cause and effect relationship. To do so is scientifically irresponsible, and is probably motivated by a desire to secure funding for the research needed by creating an atmosphere of fearful concern.

    June 8, 2011 at 16:40 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Luigi

      Thanks for the information.

      On the chance you might read my reply, I have a challenge for you as an insider. I haven't read tons of peer reviewed studies, but I've read some. Sometimes (rarely), I think they need more peers because I've found mathematical errors. I realize research scientists (hopefully) learn statistics. However, I believe some are too weak with integer based mathematics. This is where I've found errors.

      June 8, 2011 at 16:52 | Report abuse |
    • mike c

      Well put, I hope some people actually read what you wrote. Typically most folks don't get past the headlines.

      June 8, 2011 at 16:59 | Report abuse |
    • D

      I think one function of the media is to educate people about possibilities and measures that they can take to help lower their potential risks of getting diseases. If more money ends up going to scientific research as a result, that is a BENEFIT.

      June 8, 2011 at 17:07 | Report abuse |
    • Stephanie

      @D: This is shortsighted and is likely to backfire. When you tell people one thing today and the opposite tomorrow, they stop listening to you. They think your are full of it.

      June 8, 2011 at 17:26 | Report abuse |
    • Sacrilicious

      hear that? its my sigh of relief. thank you for enlightening the population of poor parents who want to 'fix' their kids.

      June 8, 2011 at 17:35 | Report abuse |
    • Momof4

      Sorry, I disagree (I am also a scientist). I took all chemicals and additives out of my son's diet and harmful chemicals out of our household when he was four. In addition to the autism he was diagnosed with at age 2, he also had immune deficiency problems. After changing his diet, and removing the chemicals he was being exposed to, both his health and his behavior improved dramatically. It does not hurt to discuss potential causes/risk factors as long as people do not run out and do dangerous things as a result. It will not hurt pregnant women to eat/drink better and take potentially harmful chemicals out of their environment. Yes, we can not say with certainty that these assumptions are true, but we can talk about potential risks in order to try and prevent more parents from undergoing the same hardships we have had to deal with.

      June 8, 2011 at 17:43 | Report abuse |
    • Laurijst

      Thank you. I feel it borders on irresponsible to publish an article about this study since it obviously has some shortcomings.Furthermore, I work in research and I know how easy it is to get published without very much oversight (peer review often leaves something to be desired).People will grab on to it, though, and say things like "Studies show..." and "Scientists say...". It seems like many in the autism community who are extremely vocal don't know much about research or the scientific method and will think that because their autistic child had exposure to X and they know a couple of other autistic children who had exposure to X that that is enough evidence of a link. The hysteria and false hope that is generated, not to mention people ready to make a quick buck, helps no one.

      June 8, 2011 at 17:46 | Report abuse |
    • El

      Excellent post!

      June 8, 2011 at 17:56 | Report abuse |
    • KL

      As a scientist then you are probably aware that of the 18,000+ chemicals used regularly in our cleaning products, fabrics, furnishings, building materials, children's clothing/bedding/toys/feeding/baithing products, personal hygene products, make-up, fragrances, food products and so many more, only 10% have been tested for health effects in the human body. The legislation madating what kind of testing needs to be done on such chemicals dates back to 1976. The need for research in this area is beyond dire so that once and for all we can get this crap banned.

      June 8, 2011 at 18:17 | Report abuse |
    • Momof4

      @ KL – I agree completely. Too many people trust the chemicals in our environment and assume the FDA knows everything about each one of them we are exposed to – nothing could be further from the truth.

      June 8, 2011 at 18:54 | Report abuse |
  12. louise

    I bet you if you did studies..you would find that there is a link for the high autism rate with the usage of the birth control pill.

    June 8, 2011 at 16:41 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Sure

      I'll take that bet.

      June 8, 2011 at 16:54 | Report abuse |
    • D

      You are not really being very specific here. Taking the pill at the time they became pregnant? Taking the pill at any point in their lives prior to becoming pregnant?

      June 8, 2011 at 17:09 | Report abuse |
    • Nikki

      I was on the BC pill for 15 years straight and went off 4 months prior to getting pregnant with my daughter. She is completely healthy and smart. In my experience, there is no link between the pill and autism. I did, however, take my prenatal vitamins religiously 4 months prior to getting pregnant, drank organic milk, and never drank a soda. I also breastfed her for 1.5 yrs.

      June 8, 2011 at 17:10 | Report abuse |
    • Poppy

      Ill take that bet youre gonna regret cause Im the best theres ever been! Johnny rosin up that bow and play that fiddle hard, cause hells broke loose in georgia and the devil deals the cards!

      June 8, 2011 at 17:17 | Report abuse |
    • Miss Pasadena

      I'll say it is probably more likely linked to antidepressants.

      June 8, 2011 at 17:19 | Report abuse |
    • Sacrilicious

      No. I'm going to go out on a limb and offer my wild theory. What if, our environment is so fast paced and social contact has become so scarce that nature is just adapting? as we can see by the evolution of creatures in fossilized stone, nature doesn't always get it right and the result is a not well functioning creature. furthermore, while there would be one non-functioning autistic child, there could be five functioning autistic children. in the end, we have very intelligent people who are not as socially acute as others making them more successful at specialized functions

      Sounds horrible doesn't it?

      June 8, 2011 at 17:41 | Report abuse |
    • Laurijst

      "I bet you if you did studies..you would find that there is a link for the high autism rate with the usage of the birth control pill."

      Let me guess: you're Christian?

      And @scareligious: Dumb. Adaptation wouldn't be that fast.

      June 8, 2011 at 17:49 | Report abuse |
    • Miss Priss

      @Nikki your post made me laugh. You are quite boastful and seem to take credit for your perfectly healthy and smart child because of the organic millk you drank?

      You got lucky in the dice roll that's all.

      BTW, my son is also very healthy and infact he's not only smart he's a genious and guess what he has autism.. Must have been the hormongenized milk... damn it I knew I did something wrong.

      June 8, 2011 at 17:59 | Report abuse |
    • Momof4

      Laurijst – inappropriate to call people dumb...

      June 8, 2011 at 18:01 | Report abuse |
  13. MNUSA

    We need to get serious about cleaning our air, water and food supply. I grew up in the country in the days when farmers used "organic methods." My mother canned and cooked our food. No one I knew was autistic or had a child that was autistic. Now autism is all around us. In my unscientific opinion, I think the chemicals we are exposing our unborn children to in the air, water and food supply (pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers) are the responsible agents. I still grow as many fruits and vegetables as I can on my city lot, do all my own cooking (not use packaged food) and shop farmers' markets and co-ops for organic foods. I also worked full time when my son was growing up so it's not impossible to eliminate as much of these chemicals as we can from our diet. But we can't control our air and water supply by ourselves. That takes government action. That takes informed, intelligent voters.

    June 8, 2011 at 16:41 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Neeneko

      That would mean you are at least in your 80s.....

      June 8, 2011 at 16:59 | Report abuse |
    • jeanette

      You are so right!! I also grew up without all the chemicals that are now in our environment. Never heard of autism. When the chemicals were first introduced into our systems, we were assured that the amounts were so minute that we would have to take hugh amounts for many years past our lifespan. We were bombarded with 'test' results that seemed to confirm these statements. We were gullible back in those days – we didn't believe that anyone would purposely harm us. Now we know better, but is it too late?? By the way, I am in my 60's – was a child in the fifties.

      June 8, 2011 at 17:56 | Report abuse |
  14. Caroline Naluai

    Here's food for thought (no pun intended) – how about the amount of chemicals the industrial food supply contains? The timeline matches – since the widespread engineering of food in the 1980's (remember how partially hydrogenated oils were touted as "better than butter" and then found to be a dangerous experiment in food science?) the autism rates in America have skyrocketed. Maybe if corporations stopped screwing with food, we would be better off. I don't care what the Corn Growers say, even if high fructose corn syrup is the same as sugar on a molecular level, something about it is not metabolized by our bodies the same way. In 1975 when I was in elementary school, I didn't know one autistic student. Todays there are whole classes of students with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder). What's the link? If its not the vaccines that we all take, then it must be the cheap food that we all eat. We've been eating sugar for thousands of years – we know what effects it has, and autism is not one of them. But, when a pregnant woman at the supermarket reaches for the artificial sweetener because she has been told that sugar is bad, she is reaching for a box of chemicals. Maybe that affects the fetus on a genetic level? We've only been eating primarily engineered food for 25 years – there's way too much evidence pointing to the connection between food and various medical conditions. Wake up, America – the corporation don't care – they are making money hand over fist.

    June 8, 2011 at 16:42 | Report abuse | Reply
    • PJM

      You are right. Research Dyes in our foods. The studies are shocking!

      June 8, 2011 at 17:37 | Report abuse |
    • Momof4

      Dr. Feingold was a pediatrician back in the 50's – 70's and wrote about the increase in ADHD and ADD found in his own patients over the years that he felt coincided with the changes in our food production as companies began adding artificial coloring/dyes, preservatives, etc. to everything that kids were eating. I am sure everyone dismissed him and his ideas, but I believe he was on to something.

      June 8, 2011 at 18:12 | Report abuse |
  15. louise

    I bet that there is a linkage between autism and usage of the birth control pill.

    June 8, 2011 at 16:43 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Sure

      I bet there is a link between decreased pregnancy rate and use of birth control! Only one of our statements is based on fact. Guess whose! (It's mine.)

      June 8, 2011 at 16:57 | Report abuse |
    • Laurijst

      You felt that was worth posting twice?

      June 8, 2011 at 17:52 | Report abuse |
  16. Ted K.

    What is not being discussed in this article or the above comments is this:
    How many parents of Autistic children have experimented with drugs? Cocaine, Marijuana, Heroin, LSD? We like to blame chemicals that we have no control over, but many people that i know have voluntarily experimented with drugs in their youthful past.. Let's be real about this issue..

    June 8, 2011 at 16:44 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Paula

      I'm a parent of an autistic (Aspergers) child, and I have never even tried an illegal drug. Nope...not even marijuana. Not even "held it but didn't inhale."

      June 8, 2011 at 17:19 | Report abuse |
    • debbie

      Ted- that's just ridiculous. When determining an illness, any doctor worth their salt will get a complete family history – especially with a diagnosis like autism where then entire world is trying to find a cause. I'm certain there are many more parents who never tried any drug ever in their life and have a child with autism than the other way around. All environmental factors are being taken into consideration, but so far no definitive link between anything. I agree with a few of the other posts in that it's more likely that a weakened immune and/or genetic system along with poorly supervised vaccines are the likely culprit but we'll probably never know. There are just too many variables and scientists are not able to deal with all of those to determine a cause. It's very sad for the children and their parents – please don't try to lay blame on them. I know for a fact that there are many many people that used tons of drugs and have (miraculously) perfectly healthy vaccinated children...so go figure!

      June 8, 2011 at 17:36 | Report abuse |
  17. icanread

    Shut-up already about the vaccines and mercury. 100% disproven. They took out the mercury, the rate kept climbing. No smallpox dna found in kids' stomachs – all a load of bs. The original study was a fraud and the guy admitted it! Stupid autism society lost its long-time president when she listened to the facts and stopped saying vaccines were to blame. Babies can have febrile seizures from the flu, or any fever-causing disease. They're not dangerous, nor the cause of autism. Vaccines are good, not bad. Thanks to so many morons, we're now seeing small-pox epidemics in England and the US. Smallpox can blind or kill a child. Vaccines don't kill or cause smallpox. Stupid parents who trust chiropractors and naturopaths over real doctors and scientists, put everyone's kids at risk.

    June 8, 2011 at 16:52 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Tom

      That is incorrect. Children die every year from vaccinations. That is why the government has the National Vaccine Relief Fund. If no one died, it would not exist.

      June 8, 2011 at 17:10 | Report abuse |
    • D

      Citations for the supposed recent "smallpox epidemics" in the US and Europe, please. I think that is total hogwash. I follow all health related news very carefully and have never heard of such a thing. Maybe you are thinking of a different disease?

      June 8, 2011 at 17:15 | Report abuse |
    • Chiro

      NOT all chiros are anti-vaccine. Making a blanket statement like that shows your own ignorance. I will find more mds that support unbiased theories like these than you will ever find in the chiro community. Every profession has its fringe sects that make a lot of noise.

      June 8, 2011 at 17:26 | Report abuse |
    • Kait

      Smallpox was eradicated in the 1970s. There have been no outbreaks since then

      June 8, 2011 at 17:53 | Report abuse |
    • Laurijst

      I hadn't heard of any smallpox, but there sure have been clusters of measles and whooping cough outbreaks. And yes, people die from that.

      June 8, 2011 at 17:57 | Report abuse |
    • Rick

      Where did you get your information? Thimerosal (Mercury) has not been removed from all vaccines. The seasonal and H1N1 vaccines still have it as well as some others that still contain ’trace’ amounts.
      And no, it has not been 100% disproved. (Disproven isn’t a real word)
      Smallpox? Haven’t you heard, the WHO declared smallpox eradicated in 1979. In the US they stopped giving smallpox vaccines in 1972.
      Today the only people who get a smallpox vaccine are military personnel who may be assigned to an area where they may be exposed to it and some first responders.


      June 8, 2011 at 18:17 | Report abuse |
  18. beautyjoy

    The writer of this article should be rewarded for writing such a sensible logical full of wisdom article Keep up the hard work.

    June 8, 2011 at 16:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. sam

    Wow what a miracle...Their not blamingthis on SMOKER's and passive SMOKE Holy COW

    June 8, 2011 at 16:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. C

    The high incidence of autism is not acceptable. It's important that people inform themselves on the latest data and research on autism in order to make informed decisions. I don't buy any baby products that have or may have BPA. Let's use the power of our purses to tell industry that we've had it with dangerous chemicals. Visit green sites about what products are safer and support them. It also seems the US lags behind Europe and other nations in chemical safety. It's time we demand our legislators to make stronger laws against toxic chemicals to protect our American families.

    June 8, 2011 at 17:02 | Report abuse | Reply
    • D

      Thanks for an intelligent comment!

      June 8, 2011 at 17:17 | Report abuse |
    • Poppy

      Lets declare war on autism and bomb it back to the stone age

      June 8, 2011 at 17:20 | Report abuse |
  21. sb

    This is the first time I'm reading comments here and I"m very surprised at what I read.

    Wouldn't it be more productive and useful if commenters share their experiences with autism and any ideas/helpful resources they've found that might help other parents, rather than sniping at each other?

    June 8, 2011 at 17:06 | Report abuse | Reply
    • D

      This is mild compared to most of the Internet.

      June 8, 2011 at 17:24 | Report abuse |
    • debbie

      You mean like be civil with one another? On a CNN post? Hmmmm – odd concept, maybe some will try it for a change!

      June 8, 2011 at 17:38 | Report abuse |
  22. triplet mom

    ....But what about this: Autism affects three-to-four males to every one female. Whey would males be more likely to be exposed to chemicals than females? Do males process chemicals differently? I have no idea- just putting it out there.

    June 8, 2011 at 17:06 | Report abuse | Reply
    • D

      Well, it is interesting that some of these chemicals seem to mimic hormones. Another possibility that someone mentioned above was X-linked chromosome damage. Girls have two X chromosomes, so it helps if you have one that is healthy...

      June 8, 2011 at 17:26 | Report abuse |
  23. Victor

    Look at most of us spraying ourselves with Lysol, air fresheners, perfume, cologne. We just haven't found a way to autoclave ourselves without killing ourselves. Maybe it's time to look at them and see whether any of them can cause harm to children.

    June 8, 2011 at 17:12 | Report abuse | Reply
    • blaaaah

      +1 for use of the word autoclave!

      June 8, 2011 at 17:26 | Report abuse |
    • El

      Screw autoclaving, irradiation is much more effective and you don't need to worry about endotoxin contamination.

      June 8, 2011 at 18:02 | Report abuse |
  24. Poppy

    I think I have autism...what should I do...Im very backwords socially. I prefer to not have contact with human beings. My speech developed very slowly as a child. I did either very well or very poorly in school depending on the subject. I dont like personal contact with other humans. Im very good with animals.

    June 8, 2011 at 17:13 | Report abuse | Reply
    • jeanette

      Have you ever considered going to the doctor and asking for testing for autism?

      June 8, 2011 at 18:11 | Report abuse |
  25. Miss Pasadena

    Has anyone ever thought of a link between psychotherapy drugs (antidepressants) and autism? What about long term effects of these drugs on women or men if they had take them years before they have children? Did it effect their eggs or sperm development? Just a thought...

    June 8, 2011 at 17:16 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Poppy

      When i was on anti depressants I couldnt reach climax so yes it had an effect on my sperm

      June 8, 2011 at 17:19 | Report abuse |
  26. Ryan

    Chemicals cause autism...really? ok, makes sense to me but in the end they are sure that the chemicals in VACCINES do not? WHAT A JOKE! Please, are people really this naive to believe this BS, apply a little thought and logic, SHEEP

    June 8, 2011 at 17:26 | Report abuse | Reply
    • B

      Amen! There are TONS of chemicals in vaccines used as preservatives!
      How insane that they mention the environmental chemicals and the chemicals that are INJECTED directly into our bodies are perfectly fine! Give me a break!

      June 8, 2011 at 18:18 | Report abuse |
  27. Todd Koto

    So, autism is caused by chemicals, scientists don't know which ones BUT without a shadow of a doubt it is not vaccines. Hmmm, there are no chemicals in vaccines nor are chemicals used to make vaccines, right? Nope, there is no way it could be vaccines.

    June 8, 2011 at 17:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. Tiredofpayingout

    How about you publish when you actually know something instead of just guessing what it might be. CNN seems to put out every study that might be true. My favorite being pollution causes autism based on less than 300 children. These parents don't need nor appreciate these half-truths published as facts.

    June 8, 2011 at 17:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. leonhl

    Another theory is that ultra-sounds contribute to autism-particularly those done at malls as souveniers for the parents-to-be by unqualified people. Older mothers may have more ultra-sounds due to their age, so it could have some merit as a theory and it could also explain the recent rise in autism as the timing corresponds with the implementation of the routine use of ultra-sound. Another possibility worth consideration.

    June 8, 2011 at 17:35 | Report abuse | Reply
    • El

      Random uninformed thoughts do not a theory make

      June 8, 2011 at 18:05 | Report abuse |
  30. wendy5

    mercury is in all the shots they give babies now

    June 8, 2011 at 17:41 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Laurijst

      No it's not.

      June 8, 2011 at 18:00 | Report abuse |
  31. Q

    Everyday I see another article stating the cause of autism. Most frequently I see articles saying that the autism rate has increased. It is obvious that there are many people out to get a name for themselves if they come up with new information on autism. Thousands of dollars have been raised for research, still no real answers, no real help for the children and parents with autism. We are on our own out here. All of these guesses on what caused autism is more frustration for us, until an answer is found compassion and understanding are deeply appreciated.

    June 8, 2011 at 17:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. D

    I am replying to people and my replies are showing up as new posts. Very annoying, CNN.

    June 8, 2011 at 17:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. Tired

    I'm so tired of hearing about autism, blah blah blah. Just because Johnny isn't perfect doesn't mean Johnny has a problem. All you people out there giving your kids a label at 5 years old are going to have one heck of a wake up call when "high functioning" Johnny steps out into the world at 18 and no one wants to deal with his "disorder". I believe 1 in 400 kids have TRUE autism, the rest are just not perfect in their over achieving parents eyes.

    June 8, 2011 at 17:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. William Blandy

    The saying goes "You are your hormones". Findings linking specific chemicals to unnatural disruptions in hormone balance is in itself an important reason to regulate their use and make development of alternate materials a priority. Waiting for large and complex studies to return inconclusive linkages to specific disorders should not be necessary to effect urgent policy change. I doubt we have the technology, money or time to "prove it" to the satisfaction of lobbied policy makers anyway.

    June 8, 2011 at 17:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. Frustrated

    What an amazingly empty article this is. No solid evidence whatsoever is given to back up any of the alarmist claims that are made - just a reference to another epidemiological study with, apparently, a small sample size. Wonderful.

    I am the parent of an autistic child and I crave genuine insight into this topic. Unfortunately, reporting that there are some "scientists" who think that there may exist some "chemicals" that "may potentially" cause autism is not very helpful or interesting. I mean, what is the evidence linking BPA to autism? Why is this even mentioned when there is apparently no evidence to back this up? And if there is evidence, what is it?

    Betting reporting on this topic is needed.

    June 8, 2011 at 17:43 | Report abuse | Reply
    • William Blandy

      BPA is being shown the door by consumers and lawmakers. The fact it has been shown to mess with critical hormone systems is enough to seal its fate even if you assume no linkage of any kind to Autism.

      June 8, 2011 at 18:09 | Report abuse |
    • Frustrated

      Whether or not BPA is being shown the door by lawmakers is totally irrelevant. Many of these types of decisions are purely political and have nothing to do with science. Again, I want to know what is the evidence linking BPA to autism.

      Talk is cheap.

      June 9, 2011 at 00:35 | Report abuse |
  36. hash

    Per my understanding of the Genes its from the father genes and grandfather genes that is what you get to your kids, so one has to think what ur grandparents were exposed too...If the Genes are strong from your grandparents no matter what u smoke and do u still get an good healthy baby...

    June 8, 2011 at 17:48 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Laurijst

      Nomination for the stupidest comment so far. So you believe you don't inherit genetic material from your biological mother?!

      June 8, 2011 at 18:02 | Report abuse |
  37. Autistic mom

    The writer of this article should be ashamed of themselves. Reporting another study based on a small study that may be coincidental. I have twins. My son is on the spectrum and my daughter is the definition of typical. I was less than 30 years old when I gave birth, never did drugs and watched what I ate when I was pregnant. Please al of you explain how one child is fine and the other is not if I did something wrong. All of you who comment and have not faced the hardship of having a child on the spectrum should count their blessings and stop blaming us for the issues we face.

    June 8, 2011 at 17:52 | Report abuse | Reply
    • chemicals in water caused thyroid problems

      I read that boys need more thyroid hormones while in the womb than girls do. That makes alot of sense for me also. I have girls, one before my autistic son and one after him. Neither of my girls are autisic. I eat healthy as well, was very active before my thyroid got the best of me 🙂 You cant blame urself for that, its in the water and food u drink.

      June 8, 2011 at 18:06 | Report abuse |
  38. Katherine

    I have (2) daughters, one on the autism spectrum and one not. They have different biological fathers. So for me, I think genetics plays a HUGE part in autism. I don't believe vaccines are the cause, as my oldest daughter is not on the spectrum but I do believe in very rare cases children suffer very harmful effects caused by vaccinations. There is a reason why our government has settled several lawsuits from parents claiming their child was harmed due to vaccines. I don't think the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986 (Public Law 99-660) that created the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP) was done for no reason. Obviously some children are harmed severely by vaccines, but to clarify I do not believe vaccines cause autism. Many of you are insulting Jenny McCartney but you have to understand, so little is known by doctors about autism, that parents rely on each other for suggestions and to find out possible solutions. Now do I think she should be giving medical advise? of course not, but as a parent of an autistic 11 year old, I can tell you that when she was diagnosed...there was nothing out there!! Both my husband and I work for our medical insurance company, and they weren't covering things like speech therapy or occupational therapy. Its only in the last several years that such coverage for autism has become mandatory. We spent over $40K in her therapy so far. Thankfully doctors are becoming more aware and studies are being done, but we parents have had to rely on each other for a long time. So don't be quick to insult Jenny McCarthy. She had good intentions.

    June 8, 2011 at 17:53 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Lis

      I guess I think that there has been plenty of time to judge Jenny McCarthy. I'll go with the fact that everyone I know in scientific fields (especially in public health) has nothing but contempt for the harm that she has done. Good intentions are irrelevant if you spread misinformation and cause deaths (even if indirectly). Vaccines save lives, and not using them kills people. Yes, very occasionally people have reactions to them, and in rare cases can die, but many many more people die or suffer terrible health consequences from illnesses they contract by not being vaccinated.

      I sympathize with family members who are suffering a terrible burden and want answers. But, please, look for real ones, and don't support the harmful spread of misinformation. If someone presents you with a theory, demand evidence. To my mind, even if BPAs have not been proven to cause autism, there is no harm in avoiding them, because they do not PROMOTE health in any way. There isn't really any risk to avoiding them, so go ahead, even if the jury is still out. However, given that vaccines DO promote health in crucial ways, and that there has been a great deal of research done that firmly repudiates the idea that they cause autism, PLEASE continue to vaccinate.


      June 8, 2011 at 18:40 | Report abuse |
  39. Nokat

    Go ahead and blame the cows and their milk that have only been in existence how many centuries now?
    But that could fly if the cows are eating marijuana grass for lunch, fact is what these human moms ingest PERIOD

    June 8, 2011 at 17:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. Adam

    I can remember young girls in PR who ate chicken that had been feed growth HMones grew breasts very young. It showed me that this cr@p does effect us when we eat it. I saw the pics! Look at MAD COW! Who knows? We have so many things to blame. My suspects, Birth control or Blond hair dye

    June 8, 2011 at 18:00 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Anabelle

      God, you're a moron. Please, just stop.

      June 8, 2011 at 18:42 | Report abuse |
  41. chemicals in water caused thyroid problems

    I do believe it is the chemicals in the water, that effects the mother before she gets pregnant. Fluoride is a known endocrine (which includes the thyroid) disruptor. Your thyroid will not work as well when u get too much fluoride, because it replaces the iodine that ur thyroid normally sucks up, to add breasts suck up iodine as well. Have you ever heard of halogen displacement? It seems that fluorine, chlorine, bromine, and iodine are intimately related because their outer electron shells are the same. This means that when iodine levels are low, any of the other 3 elements can fit into iodine receptor sites and create problems. Ive looked up alot of info eversince I had thyroid cancer 2yrs ago. And what do u know, I have an autistic son, he was born 12yrs ago. I didnt drink, do drugs and I quit smoking when pregnant. All the elements I named above, minus the iodine are put in our food and water. I read something about boys needing more thyroid hormones while in the womb than girls. That made me go hmmm, most kids with autisim are boys. So I believe, in alot of cases the mother could be just borderline hypothyroid while pregnant and the kid comes out autistic. Hormones can mess with a grown adults mind pretty bad, just imagine a growing brain. So it comes down to, get a reverse osmosis water system to clean ur water, and woman take ur prenatal vitamins, I didnt because they made me sick. Tell the Dr to give u diff vitamin if it makes u sick. Also read ur water treatment statement, alot of cities have alot of radiation and other bad chemicals in it. Oh all the chemicals they use to clean the water, cause cancer! Go to the EPA's website and see for urself.

    June 8, 2011 at 18:01 | Report abuse | Reply
    • El

      You do know that water is a chemical too?

      June 8, 2011 at 18:07 | Report abuse |
    • chemicals in water caused thyroid problems

      I sure do know that water is a chemical!?! I havent forgotten my 3rd grade science... I dont know why Im replying to this stupid comment. Our body needs H2o, it doesnt need fluoride, bromide, chlorine, and all the other carcinogens that are in our water!

      June 8, 2011 at 18:24 | Report abuse |
  42. Dr. F.

    I have been in the health and environmental field for over 30 years, and originally started my studies in molecular biology. I have always been fascinated with learning why chemicals do what they do to the human body. This e-mail string is great, and it's the first time I've actually read a complete one. Everyone is touching on a piece, but I haven't seen it all put together. Yes, there are a hell of a lot more chemicals in use now, more than ever. Only a fraction actually get tested, and many of these are tested on animals (which gives different results than people). I have been an advocate for people who experience allergies, insisting that they understand all the consumer products they use, and in what combination. Because they're "safe", and for sale in the supermarket, does that mean they won't bother you (or your children)? Everyone has slightly different biochemistry. That's the one thing I haven't seen in this string. Combine the fact that molecular biology, RNA and DNA can react to minute changes, and add in the tons of chemicals all around us, and autism could very well be one result. Perhaps more boys than girls suffer from autism because there's something about the Y chromosome that makes it more vulnerable. Maybe vaccinations have some component, some factor, that combined with some other very common but not considered household item, affects many people that may share a certain genetic marker. That's probably what we will discover someday, but the scientists in the group are right. To prove it, takes good science, time and money. Autism and immune system issues run in my family, and one whole branch (coincidentally, the most severely ill) used to live on an apple farm, and were regularly sprayed with pesticides. That's why I went into this field in the first place. We must keep demanding that good research be done, keep pounding on the people who do bad science, and never give up. We all have to make sure we fight back against the companies who don't want their products reduced, restricted or changed. We have the ability to figure it out, but we have to fight for it. If you want to read about what I am talking about, fighting for it, read about Dr. Alice Hamilton and Dr. Francis Kelsey. Dr. Hamilton fought the oil and gas industry, the mining industry and others for better working conditions, and to keep lead out of gasoline. They dynamited her house. Dr. Francis Kelsey is the reason we did not get or use thalidomide in this country, and most people have never heard of her. She fought the FDA, the drug companies, and the medical establishment, and won. And she was vindicated after it became clear how terrible the effects were on pregnant women in Europe and around the world. She sacrificed her career, for us. My point is, there have been people before us who fought for what is right, and what is needed, and now it's our turn. That is what has to happen, for us to figure out why so many children have so recently been diagnosed with autism. I am sure there is a genetic-chemical response, we just don't know yet because it's so complicated. Good luck to everyone, God bless all of you with autistic children. All our children are a gift.

    June 8, 2011 at 18:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. Nianya Cambridge

    Really tired of all the theories on what causes autism. . .how about spending time and money for new treatments and therapies; I have two autistic children, neither drank milk b/c they were allergic to it, as am I; the younger one couldn't tolerate soy or baby food so not processed chemicals there either. Stop with the conspiracy theories and start providing solutions!

    June 8, 2011 at 18:04 | Report abuse | Reply
    • chemicals in water caused thyroid problems

      What about the tap water u drank, or the bottled water u drank that came from someone else's tap? what about the food u ate before and during pregnancy? All of that could have effected u.

      June 8, 2011 at 18:34 | Report abuse |
  44. Mary

    Just read a study on special needs populations in the US looking at the data going to the federal government. http://www.edexcellencemedia.net/publications/2011/20110525_ShiftingTrendsinSpecialEducation/ShiftingTrendsinSpecialEducation.pdf (the site for the study). Actually, the number of special needs children in the school system has gone down slightly. As I suspected, if you take the reduction in children classified as "mentally retarded" and add the reduction in the children classified with emotional difficulties, the total is almost exactly the increase in the number of students classified as autistic. The report is a great start and I commend the authors for actually looking at numbers.

    June 8, 2011 at 18:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  45. Mahhn

    Elizabeth, you report that mercury is likely to play a part in Autism, but then you say methylmercury cannot be part of the problem when you say vaccines don't cause it. Some types of mercury are used as a preservative in some vaccines, and I can't belive you don't know that. You contradict yourself in your own article, this makes it hard to trust anything you say.

    June 8, 2011 at 18:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. PartyOnDude

    @Ted K Sorry but drug use has nothing to do with Autism. Some of my friends never even tried drugs, but I have dozens of friends, co-workers, and relatives who used marijuana. A few did cocaine for several years back in the 80's. My Deadhead friends did mushrooms and acid for months at a time and for almost every year for a decade. Then we all grew up, got degrees, got married and had kids. NONE have children with autism, regardless of drug use or not. Only one opposes the use of vaccines but she home schools her child, so the mandatory vaccines to enter public schools doesn't apply. All the kids are of average to well above average in intelligence. We all live in states east of the Mississippi, but raise our kids in 9 or 10 different states. I wonder if there a more instances per capita in certain states? Autism certainly has no correlation with illegal drug use. Look for environmental or genetic causes and you'll find the real cause.

    June 8, 2011 at 18:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. Ryan

    How are people so blinded by the fact that BIg Pharma does not have our best interest in mind, THEIR JOB IS TO TURN A PROFIT. No different than any other business. Have any of you Pro-vaxer's done ANY research before typing non-sense. All the diseases you credit vaccines for 'curing' had already been in decline for years before the vaccines were introduced. Credit sanitation and refrigeration with the decline.
    For the comment on here regarding non-vaxers not caring about their kids that is THE most ridiculous thing ever, you sir/madam are the most ignorant/clueless person I have ever come across. If you want to vaccinate GO RIGHT AHEAD, I'm not trying to stop you (ever heard of Darwinism? probably not so go look it up) if you want to trust the health of your kids to some large pill-popping corporation who doesn't give 2 cents about you, go right ahead. But I am very confident I have made well-informed, educated decisions about my children.

    June 8, 2011 at 18:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. rumncokes666

    I could of told everyone this since ive noticed autism has been getting worse in numbers. Thanks to the medications your doctor give you ppl you knew this was coming. This is what the bildaberg group want, they want US all to be sheeple so they can keep you from thinking. Thank you microwave oven and cell phones i bet you created cancer and other diseases,WILL SOON FIND OUT MORE 10 YEARS FROM NOW.
    Wait till the government brings in the v-chip which will be in a few years which will be mandatory or else you get no insurance and medical of any kind. The v-chip causes cancer which gets injected in your arm. YOu will soon be a human bar code. 5 out of 9 kids have autism or other mental problems in todays age since all these garbage medications and born injections that are mandatory.

    June 8, 2011 at 18:18 | Report abuse | Reply

    Maybe autism has always been a problem and due to the advances in the health sector it's now easier to diagnose.

    June 8, 2011 at 18:21 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Jen G

      I agree... or OVER-DIAGNOSED. I have three sisters with "autistic" children. I believe only one to truly have a disorder (this, coincidentally was the first "diagnosed"). The other two children are a result of REALLY bad parenting... and voila! they must be autistic. I spend time with either one of these two (not) autistic children and they react to praise and attention and structure and behave in a group and listen to instruction. The second they get around their parents they turn into demons. A lot of times, I believe it's "easy" for a parent to accept or even demand an autistic diagnosis to account for the behavior. This is the new ADD!!

      June 8, 2011 at 19:27 | Report abuse |
  50. Chris

    why would you take a prenatal vitamin before conception?

    June 8, 2011 at 18:22 | Report abuse | Reply
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