Why the increase in Autism (ASD), ADHD and Neurodevelopmental Disorders?
Dr. Jacques Duff Psychologist, Clinical Neuroscientist and Nutritionist
The Autism (ASD) problem:
The number of children diagnosed with ASD has and is still growing at an alarming exponential rate.
If one extrapolates the trend from these figures as shown in the following graph, we could easily be looking at a 5% incidence in Autism by 2020. That is one child in every 20 children across the US having a diagnosis of ASD by 2020.Actual and projected % Prevalence of Autism in the US
In the above graph, statistics from CDC (2000 to 2008) and the US National Health Statistics Report (2013), Projection to 2020, indicate that the incidence of Autism is rising exponentially.
Prevalence of Autism (ASD) In Australia.According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics Survey of Disability, Aging and Carers (SDAC) figures:
In 2012, the incidence of Autism in children
Causes of Autism (ASD)
The exact causes of Autism in general, and for each individual child with Autism remain elusive. Scientists have been researching the “gene” that may cause Autism, amongst families with Autism, with no success. This is not surprising, as single genes that cause a specific disease (as in cystic fibrosis) are very rare. However, there is widespread agreement amongst scientists involved in Autism research that Autism arises from a combination of a cluster of mutated genes (the genetic predispositions), interacting with nutrient deficiencies in our modern diet and environmental toxins. This view is consistent with epigenetics research, which teaches us that factors outside of genes profoundly affect their expression.
ASD Genetic predispositions
Humans have around 25,000 genes which make around 100,000 proteins or enzymes that carry out a multitude of functions in the body. Autism is associated with a combination of a dozen or so common polymorphisms (mutations) that seem to be over-represented in the ASD population. Many of the same mutations are also over-represented in other modern diseases, such as cancer. These genes are involved in the following functions:
These enzymes require proteins, vitamins and minerals as co-factors for their synthesis and functions. Hence, genetic mutations combine with the lack of nutrient co-factors and toxic overload to precipitate malfunctions in key enzymes. This is the process that is believed to underpin the increase in modern diseases in adults, as well as Asthma, Eczema, Autism, ADHD, Learning Difficulties and other Neurodevelopmental disorders in our young.
We evolved as a species over millions of years on account of interactions between our genes, our immune system, our diet and the environment. This process of adaptation has optimised the body of our evolutionary ancestors. Whenever we ingest something, it is tested at a molecular level by out immune cells to determine if it is friend or foe (antigen). Antigens are attacked our immune system, resulting in inflammation or even autoimmune disorders. Our modern “Western style” diet is a far cry from that of our ancestors in the Paleolithic period. The diet that we evolved on was nutrient dense and derived from virgin volcanic soils, rich in minerals, whilst our soil in Australia and the US lacks the minerals found in volcanic soils.
The Toxicity of Wheat
Epidemological studies indicate that the increased prevalence of modern diseases, ASD and ADHD is associated with a western style diet (such as nutrient-poor processed foods, food additives, colourings and preservatives) and environment factors such as lifestyle and pollution.
Our Modern wheat has a short stem, the result of the introduction of dwarfing genes in the 1960s by Norman Borlaug. He won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1970 for his work in back crossing hybrid species of wheat for robustness, increase yield and pest resistance. This genetically engineered new wheat species contains extremely high levels of Wheat Germ Agglutinin (WGA), a Lectin that protects wheat from insects, yeast and bacteria by disrupting structures containing N-acetyl-D-glucosamine and Sialic acid in their bodies and killing these pests. At such high concentrations, WGA has the potential to bind to and disrupt the integrity and function of the following tissues and promoting inflammation:
There are also health issues with other aspects of gluten. If there is an overgrowth of Streptococcus bacteria in the bowel (caused by too much grains, animal proteins and refined carbohydrates and not enough fruit and vegetables). The Strep produces an enzyme Streptococcal Kinase which binds to the DPP-IV digestive enzymes needed to breakdown gluten and casein. This resulting lack of DPP-IV results in gluteomorphine and casomorphine being produced due to inadequate denaturing of gluten and caseine. These exorphins can have a myriad of opiate-like effects on the brain resulting in a dulling of cognitive skills.
Many people have the genes for Coeliac disease without overtly having Coeliac disease. However, these carriers are much more likely to have Irritable Bowel Syndrome for years before eventually developing Coeliac disease which results in damage to the intestinal villi. A Coeliac Serology is only positive when the IBS condition has deteriorated to the point of damaged villi and elevated titres.
The need to address root causes of ASD and ADHD
Unless we address the root causes and educate the public and policy makers, Pharmaceutical companies will continue to seek medical solutions to treat these disorders and will continue to convince our doctors and policy makers that “medication” is best practice.
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