This headline in the New York Times seems to indicate that chemical exposure during pregnancy can lead to autism. There are myriad chemicals going into Moms to Be these days - a far cry from when I had my girls and was not allowed even a cup of coffee, let alone anti-depressants and aluminum and mercury laden vaccinations. And yet, look below at the paragraph that veers sharply away from "external exposure" (code! code! code! code!) as the headline would imply. Also note the sentence that tells Moms this is not about anything "she did." I don't see this as a move away from refrigerator theory so much as a way to convince Mom her intake of chemicals had nothing to do with her child's autism. Share your thoughts.
New York Times
By Dr. Perri Klass
If you are a parent worrying through pregnancy, or maybe trying to make sense of your child’s neurodevelopmental problems, you aren’t always glad to see another story about a new study looking at possible environmental risk factors. From pesticides in the food to phthalates in the plastics to pollutant particles in the air, so many different exposures have been linked to problems in the developing fetal brain that parents can sometimes feel both bewildered and, inevitably, at fault for failing or having failed to take all possible precautions.
That’s a great pity, because the accumulating research is of tremendous value, particularly to families struggling with an autism diagnosis. But there’s an unfortunate tendency to treat each new study as a single explanatory solution to what is in fact a tremendously complicated and multifactorial issue.
....The record in teeth may show associations with autism but does not mean that the mother did something to cause the condition, experts say.
....Curtin, an assistant professor of environmental medicine and public health at Mount Sinai who was first author on the study, said that in children with autism, regulation of zinc and copper metabolism shows differences beginning early in the course of fetal development. The point of the study was not to look at whether a child had been externally exposed to these metals, but rather at the internal metabolic rhythms of nutrients and possible toxins, at “what are the dynamics of zinc and copper metabolism, and how are those dysregulated in disease.”
I did a cursory search for mercury and zinc/copper and found a study from 2009 linking learning disabilities with low nutrient levels in conjunction with environmental mercury. Mercury exposure, nutritional deficiencies and metabolic disruptions may affect learning in children
There is evidence to suggest that the body's ability to maintain neuronal plasticity when essential dietary nutrients are lacking can be additionally impaired by exposure to environmental mercury. This article provides a review of such evidence and a model of how this toxic effect of mercury may occur (Figure (Figure11).