Monday, August 29, 2011

Eat (and Drink) Organic, Says Harvard Professor, To Prevent Autism

Increases in prevalence of autism in last 15 years
A great radio segment to listen to from Living on Earth (sponsored by the National Science Foundation) on the new research revealing the link between autism and environmental factors is much stronger than previously thought.

Dr. Martha Herbert, professor of neurology from Harvard Medical School, says newly published twins studies show that the roots of autism are less about genetics than previously thought - and more about environmental factors, including pesticides.

GELLERMAN: So it’s a very low number in terms of genetics and very high in terms of environmental issues.
HERBERT: Yes, which is really different from what everybody’s been saying up until now.
GELLERMAN: So what kind of environmental factors could we be talking about?
HERBERT: Well, there are lots of environmental factors that people have been talking about and trying to do research about. It ranges from chemicals to nutrition to exposures like to being living near a freeway – many, many different types of factors.
GELLERMAN: Are there any suspects that perhaps stand out from the crowd?
HERBERT: There are a number of chemicals that it’s a good idea to watch out for. Bisphenol - plasticizers that make plastics moldable. Flame retardants - flame retardants in baby pajamas and in bedding that were not tested for the baby urinating in the bed, which then makes the chemicals float around in the air that the baby then breathes in. Pesticides - be really careful about spraying your house. Find more natural ways of avoiding pest exposure. Pesticides in food - try to eat organic if possible. Don’t microwave in plastic. Look under your sink and clean out a lot of the products, which have long lists of chemicals that you can’t pronounce. There’s lots of ways of cleaning your house with simple products, with vinegar and water and baking soda, and things that are not going to cause problems, that may show up now or later.

Read the segment transcript (it's short) or give the segment a listen online (best option) - click here.

Dr. Herbert's forthcoming book The Autism Revolution will be out next year.

(Studies do not name any specific pesticide influences.)

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