Richard G. Petty, MD

Industrial Chemicals and Autism

There is an exceedingly important article in this week’s issue of the Lancet, that has not yet received the attention that it deserves.

I have time and again discussed the extraordinary burden of artificial chemicals now born by the human body. None of which was present 100 years ago. It is not rocket science to ask whether this toxic burden may have soething to do with the the rise of many neurological and psychiatric illnesses, given the sensitivity of the growing brain to any kind of environmental insult.

The article, entitled “Developmental Neurotoxicity of Industrial Chemicals,” is written by two senior academics from Denmark who also hold positions at the Department of Environmental Health at Harvard School of Public Health, the Departments of Community Medicine and Pediatrics at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York.

What they say is this. The report begins by saying that neurodevelopmental disorders such as autism, attention deficit disorder, mental retardation, and cerebral palsy are common and can cause lifelong disability. Indeed, 1-in-6 children has a developmental disability, which mostly affect the nervous system. The causes of these problems are largely unknown.

Secondly, the prevention of neurodevelopmental disabilities is hampered by the great gaps in testing chemicals for developmental neurotoxicity and the high level of proof needed for regulation.

Next, the list of potentially damaging chemicals is extremely long. A few industrial chemicals are recognised causes of neurodevelopmental disorders and subclinical brain dysfunction, for instance methylmercury, arsenic and lead. we simply do not know how manyother chemicals may affect the brain. Exposure to these chemicals during early fetal development can cause brain injury at doses that are much lower than those affecting adult brain function. Recognition of these risks has led to evidence-based programmes of prevention, such as the gradual elimination of lead additives in petrol. Although these prevention campaigns have been highly successful, most were initiated only after substantial delays. Another 200 chemicals are known to cause clinical neurotoxic effects in adults. That being the case, since the young brain is so much more sensitiv, we can only assume that many of these chemicals must also be dangerous to the fetus, baby and growing child.

This article is published at the same time as an investigative report in the National Geographic. The magazine paid $15,000 for a reporter to have a full toxicological analysis, and if you have any doubts about toxins, I would urge you to read the article.

As a side bar, many clinical practitioners offer different kinds of toxicological analysis based on hair, skin, blood or electrical testing. Some years ago we looked into many of these methods using confirmatory analyses using a full scale research laboratory at Northwick Park Hospital in London. We found very poor correlations between the results obtained by the laboratory and three labs doing hair and blood analysis. I’m sure that some labs do a good job using hair and other types of analysis for a good deal less than $15,000. But It’s good to be a little cautious before relying too much on some of these unorthox evaluations. Just ask the lab to give you the methods that they use, the standard errors of their testing, their false positive and false negative rates, and how often they get their results checked by an independent laboratory. Then you can be confident that you or your practitioner is using a good one.

The conclusion from all the published literature, some of which is summarized in the Lancet?

Environmental toxins are there, growing and they may be responsible for the catstrophic rise in some neurodevelopmental disorders, in particular autism.

We probably have enough empirical evidence toadvocate some serious cleaning up of the environment, which will likely only happen once people begin to vote with their feet. Governments are taking notice of global warming now that it is being suggested that it may damage national economies.

We need urgently to see whether, if the are present, we have – or can develop – viable methods for clearing these toxins from the human brain
and restoring normal structure and function.

About Richard G. Petty, MD
Dr. Richard G. Petty, MD is a world-renowned authority on the brain, and his revolutionary work on human energy systems has been acclaimed around the globe. He is also an accredited specialist in internal and metabolic medicine, endocrinology, psychiatry, acupuncture and homeopathy. He has been an innovator and leader of the human potential movement for over thirty years and is also an active researcher, teacher, writer, professional speaker and broadcaster. He is the author of five books, including the groundbreaking and best selling CD series Healing, Meaning and Purpose. He has taught in over 45 countries and 48 states in the last ten years, but spends as much time as possible on his horse farm in Georgia.

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