Autism, Genes, and Pollution

Well, there is a new kid in town that Big Oil and Big Chemical companies will want you to ignore. In fact, they would like you to ignore this even more than they want you to ignore Climate Change, which is saying something.

That new kid in town is the swelling volume of research linking autism spectrum disorders to pollution. A recent study in the PLOS Computational Biology Journal used data from the “health records of over 100 million Americans in an effort to shift research from almost exclusively genetic to include environmental factors … The report looked at birth defects associated with parental exposure to pollution and found a 1% increase in the defects corresponded to a 283% increase in autism.”

Autism is genetic and biologically complex and starts in the womb. Studies have shown that autism may also share some genetic risk factors with attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), bipolar disorder, major depressive disorder and schizophrenia. It looks like the expression of these genes is “turned on” or worsened by exposure to pollution. God knows that the ranking of air pollution in cities overlaps neatly with “autism clusters”. How not surprising.

This information is not that new. Scientists have been finding links between pollution and autism for a while now. Is it being discussed nationally along with demands that the EPA do something about it? Nope.

My only child with Asperger’s, Lilo, was conceived and born in Dallas, TX. Texas has a hell of a lot of pollution, including ranking #1 in mercury pollution. My middle and third daughters were conceived and born in Indiana, which is also a high pollution state but still has just a little more than 1/2 the pollution Texas does. Moreover, the last two were born in a small town while Lilo was gestated in the middle of a city with air quality index in the red for MONTHS at a time. I also didn’t know (back in the dark ages of 2004/2005) the importance of organic food and high-quality Omega 3 fatty acids. By 2006/2007 I ate mostly organic and took Carlson’s fish oil daily. By the time I had Spock in 2010 I was an organic fanatic and ate Carlson’s fish oil capsules like they were candy.

We could afford organic food and mercury-free fish oil from Norway. WTF happens to the babies whose mother’s live in a big city and can’t afford the best nutrition? If a fetus is inside a poor women, do we just not give a shit?

Jesus wept.

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