Thursday, August 26, 2010
Clinic Notes: Environmental Causes of Autism
As I mentioned in an earlier blog, I used to enjoy quail hunting. Flushing a covey that your dogs have pointed and having fried quail for breakfast was a real treat in the South where I live. But those days are gone. In Texas, where I'm from there are still quail, but the difference seems to be that in Texas there is ranch land and in the area of the South where I live it's farmland. Farmland means chemicals-pesticides-herbicides-fertilizer-etc. There are studies that show the closer you live to an agricultural field the higher the incidence of autism. I think there is a good chance that whatever killed the quail is also getting into our children either pre or post-natal. Humans are larger than quail so the unknown chemical culprits are not in high enough concentration to be fatal, but in high enough concentration to mess with the wiring of the brain. I was glad to see that more research into the environmental causes of autism was suggested to the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee (IACC). Autism has a genetic component, but the concordance rate is low and other etiological factors have to be investigated. There is already some evidence to suggest that ADHD is related to environmental chemicals so the hypothesis seems reasonable.