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Weeding Out Vaccine Toxins: MMR, Glyphosate, and the Health of a Generation

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By Dr. Stephanie Seneff, a Senior Research Scientist at MIT, printed here with permission from The World Mercury Project.

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Glyphosate, often sold under the brand name “Roundup,” is the most widely used weed killer in the U.S. Glyphosate is a “non-selective herbicide,” which means it kills many plants, not just weeds. It kills them by interfering with the production of critical proteins necessary for growth.

In commercial agriculture, Roundup is used on “Roundup Ready” crops—crops that have been genetically modified to resist the powerful toxic effects of glyphosate. The list of Roundup Ready crops includes soy, corn, canola and sugar beets. It is important to remember that, while these plants have been modified to resist the harmful effects of glyphosate, the people and animals that eat them have not.

It is important to remember that, while these plants have been modified to resist the harmful effects of glyphosate, the people and animals that eat them have not.

In a series of articles, my colleague Anthony Samsel and I have been exploring the connection between glyphosate and a number of diseases, including multiple sclerosis, autism, Alzheimer’s disease, and cancer. In our most recent article, “Glyphosate Pathways to Modern Diseases VI: Prions, Amyloidoses and Autoimmune Neurological Diseases,” we present evidence that glyphosate has made its way into several widely used vaccines. We describe how the glyphosate residue contained in vaccines might induce the kind of autoimmune responses typically observed in autism.

Interestingly, of all the vaccines we tested, MMR stood out as consistently having the highest level of glyphosate contamination. This fact may help explain why the MMR vaccine, which contains neither mercury nor aluminum, has been implicated so often in vaccine injury and autism.

How Might Glyphosate Make Its Way into Vaccines?

Vaccines can become contaminated in many ways. One potential source of contamination is the animal tissue (chicken embryo, fetal bovine serum, monkey kidney, etc.) that is used as a culture medium to grow the viruses contained in vaccines. The measles virus for the MMR is grown on gelatin made from the bones and ligaments of commercially raised cows and pigs, animals that have been fed a steady diet of Roundup Ready corn and soy feed. Gelatin is also used as a stabilizer in vaccines, creating another possible route of contamination.

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As Roundup producer Monsanto itself has reported, the residue from glyphosate tends to accumulate in the bones, marrow, and collagen-rich ligaments of animals. Anthony Samsel confirmed this finding in his own study of the bones, marrow, and other parts of pigs and cows, as well as the derived bovine gelatin.

To provide additional evidence that gelatin is the source of glyphosate contamination in vaccines, Samsel looked at a number of gelatin-based products, including Jell-O, gummi vitamins, and protein powders. He also looked at digestive enzymes such as trypsin and lipase. He found significant glyphosate residue in all of them. It should come as no surprise, then, that all of the vaccines that list gelatin and bovine serum as ingredients tested positive for glyphosate, while those that contained neither of these ingredients tested negative.

Glyphosate may be contributing to another source of vaccine contamination. In a recentstudy published in the International Journal of Vaccines and Vaccination, researchers were shocked to discover a variety of toxic metals in a number of common vaccines. Platinum, silver, bismuth, iron, and chromium all showed up in the MMR vaccine. The source of these contaminants is considered to be a mystery. It is interesting to note in this context that glyphosate was first patented as a pipe cleaner due to its remarkable ability to chelate metals. It may be the case that glyphosate is playing a role in extracting metals from containers during the manufacture of vaccines.

My research leads me to believe that synergistic toxicity between glyphosate and vaccines, particularly MMR, is a major factor in the growing autism epidemic. The severity of MMR-related adverse events, as reflected in the FDA’s Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System, has increased steadily in recent years—along with the use of glyphosate on corn and soy crops in the U.S. Some of the reactions that have become significantly more common after 2002 compared to before 2002 are seizures, anaphylactic shock, asthma, autism, eczema, irregular heart rate, and ear infection. Of course, correlation does not prove causation; it is important to understand how glyphosate residues might disrupt the body’s immune system.

How Might the Glyphosate in Vaccines Cause Autism?

In our recent article, Samsel and I describe how the measles virus in the MMR, which is grown on nutrients contaminated with glyphosate, could incorporate this glyphosate into its own proteins, as a coding error, in place of the amino acid glycine. Glyphosate is a glycine molecule with an additional methyl phosphonyl group attached to the nitrogen atom, and we have argued that a key mechanism of its insidious cumulative toxicity is its ability to substitute for glycine by mistake during protein synthesis.

Haemagglutinin is the main antigen produced by the measles virus that is responsible for inducing an antibody response to the vaccine. A glyphosate-contaminated haemagglutinin molecule from a measles virus will be much more allergenic than one that is free of glyphosate. When the measles virus from the vaccine gains access to the brain, the brain’s immune system acquires antibodies to this abnormal haemagglutinin molecule, and then, through molecular mimicry, these antibodies become autoantibodies to myelin basic protein, a basic component of the myelin sheath. This autoimmune attack on the nerve fibers in the brain disrupts neuronal communication channels, causing the symptoms of autism.

Vijendra K. Singh and his colleagues at Utah State University have published multiple papers, dating back to the 1990s, proposing that an autoimmune attack on the myelin sheath due to a viral infection may be a causative factor in autism. In their 2002 paper,“Abnormal Measles-Mumps-Rubella Antibodies and CNS Autoimmunity in Children with Autism,” they concluded that “an inappropriate antibody response to MMR, specifically the measles component thereof, might be related to pathogenesis of autism.” A paperpublished by Dr. William Shaw in 2017 discussed a set of triplets—two boys with autism and a girl with a seizure disorder—all of whom had high levels of glyphosate in their urine and a disrupted gut microbiome, which he proposed was a causative factor.

Gut Dysbiosis: a Primary Factor

Not all children will respond to a glyphosate-contaminated vaccine in the same way. A key factor that increases susceptibility of the brain to damage is an unhealthy gut microbiome, which leads to a leaky gut barrier and subsequently a leaky brain barrier, via a tight communication channel between the gut microbes and the brain. Prior chronic exposure to high levels of dietary glyphosate can set a child up for a severe adverse reaction to a vaccine. Dr. Andrew Wakefield, together with many colleagues, published a seminal articlein the Lancet in 1998 on a case study of twelve children, all of whom had a gut disorder and all of whom suffered onset of gastrointestinal and neurological symptoms following MMR vaccine, with regression into an autism-like syndrome.” Parents of eight of the children cited MMR as the trigger for their child’s decline. Wakefield was among the first scientists to recognize the important role of a disrupted gut microbiome in the etiology of autism. Unfortunately, the Lancet paper was later retracted and other researchers were very slow to follow up on this important lead, although finally today an unhealthy gut is recognized as a key feature linked to autism.

Dr. Wakefield recognized that the children in his study suffered from a leaky gut barrier, as a consequence of damage to the lining of the small intestine. This lining is covered with millions of small projections called villi, creating a huge surface area for the absorption of nutrients. The cells that form these villi, called enterocytes, begin life as an undifferentiated stem cell in the “crypt” area of the intestines. From there, they proliferate and mature as they migrate up the walls of the crypt, and then settle in on the surface of the villi, where they absorb nutrients before dying and getting replaced by new arrivals in a constant renewal process, as illustrated in Figure 1.

Glyphosate, as an amino acid, is actively imported into cells along L-type amino acid transporters. Cells that proliferate, like enterocytes, express high levels of these transporters, and therefore preferentially take up glyphosate. In Celiac disease (gluten intolerance), the enterocytes are destroyed more quickly due to exposure to glyphosate and other toxic chemicals. This damage causes the cells to proliferate more quickly, in order to replace destroyed cells. Increased proliferation causes an increase in the uptake of glyphosate, creating a downward spiral.

Thus, glyphosate residue in food sets a child up to fail following an MMR vaccine. Wheat, barley, oats, chick peas, lentils, and sugar cane are not glyphosate resistant, but glyphosate is frequently used as a desiccant or ripening agent for them right before harvest, and it is actively taken up by the seed. Some of the highest levels of glyphosate have been found as a contaminant in these non-GMO foods, so eating “non-GMO” is not adequate for glyphosate avoidance. Glyphosate is not allowed in organic agriculture, so buying USDA certified organic foods is the best option. Children with autism often suffer from gluten intolerance, and I believe glyphosate is a major causative factor in both conditions.

Figure 1: Schematic of the enterocytes in the villi lining the walls of the small intestine, which migrate upward from the crypt to the villus as they mature into functioning enterocytes from initial stem cells. These cells are especially vulnerable to glyphosate toxicity, leading to a leaky gut syndrome.

A Lost Generation

We have been misled for far too long by the claim that vaccines are “safe and effective.” It is not at all clear that inducing specific antibodies to a small set of infective agents, such as the measles virus, while weakening the immune system’s ability to fight off all the other infective agents in the environment, is the best way to deal with infectious disease. As we have seen, antibodies can become autoantibodies and attack the body’s own tissues, leading to chronic diseases that are often worse than the infectious diseases they protect from. Vaccinated children suffer from many debilitating neurological and autoimmune diseases in far greater numbers than unvaccinated children. The manufacture of vaccines is a tricky process, and along with the acknowledged toxic ingredients like mercury, aluminum, and formaldehyde, they also have been found to contain contaminants like glyphosate and toxic metals that may well be the biggest contributors to severe adverse reactions.

As we have seen, antibodies can become autoantibodies and attack the body’s own tissues, leading to chronic diseases that are often worse than the infectious diseases they protect from.

Children today may already be a lost generation, but several policy changes need to take place in the immediate future to save subsequent generations from a similar fate. We need to repeal the 1986 legislation that protects pharmaceutical companies from liability when a child’s life is ruined by a vaccine. This will surely pressure them to try harder to keep impurities out of vaccines. We need to eliminate laws such as California’s SB277 that prevents unvaccinated children from enrolling in public or private schools, and be vigilant to ensure other states don’t follow suit. Then parents will be empowered to make decisions about the best path towards building a strong immune system in their child. Part of that program needs to be a switch to a 100 percent USDA certified organic diet, in order to protect children from the dangers posed by toxic herbicides, insecticides and fungicides. Finally, we need to insist that our elected representatives pass laws that protect consumers from products like glyphosate, which are designed to disrupt processes that support life.

PUTTING THE PIECES TOGETHER: Exposure to glyphosate may play an important role in the development of autism.

Top 5 Reasons to Avoid Glyphosate Exposure

1. Glyphosate is a “Probable” Carcinogen
In March of 2015, scientists at the UN’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) declared glyphosate a probable human carcinogen. The IARC report linked glyphosate to non-Hodgkin lymphoma in humans and to cancer in laboratory animals, and indicated it can cause “DNA and chromosomal damage in human cells.”

2. Glyphosate is a Patented Antimicrobial Agent
Glyphosate disrupts the gut microbiome leading to the overgrowth of pathogens and inflammatory bowel disease.

3. Glyphosate Negatively Impacts the Brain
According to the National Pesticide Information Center at Oregon State University (NPIC), glyphosate exposure has been linked to developmental effects when administered to pregnant rats in high doses.

4. Glyphosate May Disrupt the Reproductive System

The Western world faces an epidemic in declining sperm quality.  The NPIC links high dose exposure in rats to negative reproductive effects.

5. Glyphosate May Be a Critical Factor the Autism Epidemic

Much evidence supports this, including disruption of the gut microbiome, chelation of important minerals like manganese and zinc, and extremely high correlations between time trends in autism and in the use of glyphosate on core crops.

Dr. Stephanie Seneff is a Senior Research Scientist at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory in Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA. She has a BS degree from MIT in biology and MS, EE and PhD degrees from MIT in electrical engineering and computer science.  She has published over 200 peer-reviewed papers in scientific journals and conference proceedings. Her recent interests have focused on the role of toxic chemicals and micronutrient deficiencies in health and disease, with a special emphasis on the pervasive herbicide, Roundup, and the mineral, sulfur.  She has authored over thirty peer-reviewed journal papers over the past few years on these topics, and has delivered numerous slide presentations around the world.

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Awareness

Medical Medium: The Two Causes Of Chronic Illness & The Power Of Your Thoughts

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    Medical Medium is one of the most influential figures in the alternative health movement, and he firmly believes that our thoughts and beliefs can play an integral role in our health and wellness.

  • Reflect On:

    Are you or a loved one currently battling a chronic illness? If so, how do you view it and what are you doing to help your body overcome it?

For those of you who aren’t familiar with his work, Anthony William (also commonly known as the Medical Medium) is the author of several New York Times bestselling books including Liver Rescue and Life-Changing Foods. He’s also the primary figure behind the now viral Global Celery Juice Movement–a subject that we covered in great detail earlier this year.

However, what really sets Anthony William apart in the alternative health world is that the source of his insights is far more “alternative” than most of his equally successful counterparts. You see, rather than regularly citing scientific studies or findings throughout each of his books, Anthony instead credits a higher source that he channels out of compassion and a desire to truly heal us all–something that many believe modern medicine struggles with. (To learn more about Anthony’s incredible story read this.)

Several of us connected to Collective Evolution, myself included, have put many of Anthony’s suggestions into practice and I can say from personal experience that I’m grateful to have done so. As just the adoption of daily morning celery juice alone has worked wonders at improving both my own health and the health of my mother in just a few short months.

As part of the upcoming Hay House Heal Summit, two new videos featuring Anthony have recently been released, both of which share a perspective on our health that is certainly worth considering.

The Two Causes Of Chronic Illness

As Anthony outlines in the video, chronic illness ultimately boils down to the presence of toxins and pathogens. Toxins are defined as poisonous substances that are products of the metabolic activities of a living organism, while pathogens are causative agents of disease.

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Whether it be through the food that we are eating, the air that we are breathing, the surfaces that we are touching, or the liquids that we are drinking, our bodies are regularly exposed to things that both build up toxins and/or present us with triggers of illness that are only made stronger by the existing toxins within our body for it to feed and thrive off of.

It therefore becomes imperative that we consider taking proactive measures–whether it be those recommended by the Medical Medium or otherwise–to both rid our body of existing toxins and minimize the amount of new toxins we expose it to. I’ve personally found being more conscious of the dietary choices that I make, and opting to make my own food with non-processed organic ingredients as often as possible, as incredibly helpful in doing exactly this, especially when paired with celery juice first thing in the morning to help flush out pre-existing and new toxins I’ve managed to take on.

The Power Of Your Thoughts

Within this video, Anthony touches upon an aspect of health that I’ve become particularly connected to over the past 3 years through my work with the documentary Heal. Heal is a film that features some of the greatest minds in the alternative health movement including Deepak Chopra, Dr. Joe Dispenza, Kelly Brogan and the Medical Medium himself in an exploration of the role that our thoughts can play in our ability or inability to heal from illness and disease. (Note: If you haven’t seen it, the film is available on Netflix.)

While toxins and pathogens may play the physical leading roles in the development of disease, many believe that our thoughts and beliefs may play just as critical a role.

Whether you or someone close to you is or has battled a chronic illness, we all know that they can be scary, frustrating, and a million other related adjectives making the development of negative beliefs seemingly natural. While completely controlling them may not be possible, as Anthony points out in this video, it’s certainly worth at least attempting to minimize them.

For proof of this, look no further than the integral role that placebos have played in many studies. It may not do all of the work when it comes to your healing, but cutting back on the less than pleasant beliefs and showing yourself some compassion can only help (even if just mentally) in your healing journey.


If the above videos resonated with you, I encourage you to sign up for the FREE Hay House Heal Online Summit taking place from October 23rd – 29th. It’s not only slated to feature the complete interview lessons with the Medical Medium that the above two clips were taken from, but it also features several other lessons with impactful health figures like Bruce Lipton, PhD., Dr. Veronique Desaulniers, Chris Wark, Dr. Joe Dispenza and many more all set on helping you empower the powerful healer that lies within us all.

Sign up now and receive immediate access to 4 free lessons (including one with the Medical Medium) before the Summit begins on October 23rd!

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Alternative News

Thousands Protest In Switzerland As The Population Is Now Exposed To 5G Wireless Radiation

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    A large portion of the Switzerland population is now exposed to 5G, and thousands of people showed up on the Swiss house of Parliament in Bern to protest.

  • Reflect On:

    With undeniable evidence showing this type of technology has disastrous health effects, what's really going on? People are aware of this, but governments continue to ignore all of this information.

Frank Clegg, the former President of Microsoft Canada, has released an insider’s view educational video regarding the health and safety concerns of 5G and wireless technologies. You can watch that video here. The main takeaway of his video is that there are numerous health concerns concerning wireless radiation, especially with regards to 5G, and that this type of technology is linked to a number of diseases, and yet it’s being implemented without any safety testing.

His words echo the message of thousands of scientists who have published numerous papers on not just 5G, but EMF radiation in general and how over-exposure from our computers, cell phones, cell phone towers and wifi signals are creating a disturbing health epidemic around the world.

You would think with more than 10,000 peer reviewed publications on the subject that the industry and our government health regulatory agencies would do some safety testing  before rolling it out, but no, they haven’t. To be honest, with so much science already making things quite clear, if they did any type of appropriate safety testing there is truly no way they would be able to rollout this technology. It would be a huge profit loss, which is why we don’t hear anything about the negative health consequences of this type of technology.

I’d like to point readers toward a fairly recent publication by Dr. Martin L. Pall, PhD and Professor Emeritus of Biochemistry and Basic Medical Sciences at Washington State University, who says the following in his report “5G: Great risk for EU, U.S. and International Health! Compelling Evidence for Eight Distinct Types of Great Harm Caused by Electromagnetic Field (EMF) Exposures and the Mechanism that Causes Them”:

“Putting in tens of millions of 5G antennae without a single biological test of safety has got to be about the stupidest idea anyone has had in the history of the world.”

If you want to learn more about 5G technology and the health concerns regarding electromagnetic radiation of this kind, the Environmental Health Trust is a great place to start.

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Switzerland

What’s happening in Switzerland might go global–it’s something that seems to be rolling out in North America at least. Switzerland’s population is now officially exposed to the new 5G networks.

As a result, thousands of people showed up in protest.

Yahoo News reports:

The protesters, many carrying placards, gathered in front of the Swiss parliament building, in a bid to stop the construction of more 5G-compatible antennae.

“The fact that so many people turned out today is a strong sign against the uncontrolled introduction of 5G,” said Tamlin Schibler Ulmann, co-president of Frequencia, the group that organised the rally.

[C]ritics in Switzerland argue that the electromagnetic radiation the new system emits poses unprecedented health and environmental risks compared to previous generations of mobile technology.

Online petitions have helped persuade several Swiss cantons — in Geneva, Vaud, Fribourg and Neuchatel — to postpone the construction of antennae as a precaution.

The Swiss Federation of Doctors (FMH) has also argued for a cautious approach to the new technology.

The first injuries due to 5G are already being reported in Switzerland, according to Physicians for Safe Technology.

Paul Bischoff, a tech journalist and privacy advocate, recently compiled data regarding telecom’s political contributions to influence policies that benefit their industry.

Internet service providers in the United States have spent more than $1.2 billion on lobbying since 1998, and 2018 was the biggest year so far with a total spend of more than $80 million.

Comparitech researchers compiled and analyzed 51 ISPs’ lobbying expenses from the US Senate’s Lobbying Disclosure Act database, which dates back to 1998.

Here are the highlights of our analysis:

  • 2018 was the biggest year yet for ISP lobbying at $80 million.
  • Top spenders include AT&T, Verizon, and Comcast, which have amassed lobbying expenses of $341 million, $265 million, and $200 million, respectively since 1998.
  • Since 2011, yearly spending on lobbying across all ISPs hasn’t strayed below $72 million.
  • The largest amount spent by any provider in any year was AT&T in 1999, at almost $23 million. AT&T’s acquisition of Ameritech Corp accounted for much of this, and the merger eventually led to the creation of America’s largest telecom company.
  • Total spend from 2016 to 2019 is set to exceed lobbying expenses between 2012 and 2015, which totaled $295 million.
  • Lobbying in favor of mergers and acquisitions accounted for many of the biggest expenses for individual ISPs in a single year.
  • $1.2 billion has been spent by ISPs on lobbying since 1998.

It’s Obvious That 5G Technology Is Not Safe. Here Are Some Related CE Articles On The Topic With More Information

Ex VP of Microsoft Canada Explains How 5G Wireless Radiation Could Be A Huge Health Hazard

5G Is The “Stupidest Idea in The History of the World” – Says Washington State Professor

5G Technician Reveals The Damage He Believes 5G Will Cause

Brussels Becomes First Major City to Halt 5G Due to Health Effects

Devonshire, UK Halts The Installation of 5G Over Serious Health Concerns

Top Cancer Research Advisor Compares Wireless Radiation To Cigarettes

EMF Frequencies Used For Crowd Control Weapons Form The Foundation of 5G Network

The Takeaway & What You Can Do

Many of us have already started participating in protests, and many steps are being taken to stop 5G. Products and services are being banned, and the amount of awareness that’s been created within the past five years is promising. People are becoming aware of this stuff, and with awareness comes action, like the examples used in this article. Ten years ago, the world was silent on such issues. Today, we are making it difficult for services and products to make a profit, and approval processes have become stricter. We are definitely moving forward.

So, what can you do? You could purchase some EMF protective clothing and bedding, or you could even paint your home with EMF protective paint. You can unplug your computer when not in use, turn off your cell phone, and unplug all your electronic devices before you go to sleep. You could have a wired internet connection, which is actually much faster than any wireless connection. You can live a healthy lifestyle, and you can use mind-body healing techniques to help you.

Years ago many actions taken by governments and corporations went unnoticed. We are no doubt making things difficult for them, so let’s keep moving forward.

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Alternative News

The Mental Health Morass: Good for Pharma, Bad for Youth

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When several hundred Colorado high school students walked out of a post-school-shooting vigil last May to protest the event’s politicization, their departing chant was, “mental health, mental health.” While this response may have unsettled the event’s organizers, it was unsurprising in the context of widespread media accounts of an “epidemic of anguish” among American youth. According to this narrative, not only is “the increase in mental health issues among [U.S.] teens and young adults…nothing short of staggering,” but around the globe, mental illness is set to become the “next major global health challenge” and “pandemic of the 21st century.”

Without making light of the problem or minimizing anyone’s personal suffering, it is clear that one entity that stands to benefit mightily from a deepening mental health crisis is the pharmaceutical industry. Psychiatric medications have long been “growth superstars”—generating billions in sales for companies like Pfizer and Eli Lilly “as the U.S. became Prozac Nation, antipsychotics also became antidepressants, and ADHD [attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder] a byword.” Already in the mid-2000s, a Harvard economist reported that spending on psychotropic drugs had substantially outpaced overall prescription drug spending—no mean feat given the drug market’s exponential growth.

Outsized drug company profits and clever marketing tactics have prompted many to question the industry’s “oversized role in determining how mental illness is treated.” Even in conventional medical circles, clinicians acknowledge the need for “radical change in the paradigm and practices of mental health care,” including interventions that emphasize prevention and non-pharmacologic treatment modalities. These sorts of recommendations are urgently needed—not least for the young people for whom there is scant evidence of psychotropic medication safety or efficacy.

Overlapping trends

Modern psychiatry situates an alphabet soup of diagnoses under the broad rubric of “mental, emotional and behavioral” (MEB) disorders. It is no longer uncommon for children and adolescents to receive one or more of these diagnoses: anxiety disorder; attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder; autism spectrum disorder; bipolar disorder; conduct disorder; depression; disruptive behavior disorder; drug abuse or dependence; eating disorders; obsessive-compulsive disorder; oppositional defiant disorder; pervasive developmental disorder; post-traumatic stress disorder; and schizophrenia.

The proliferation of mental health diagnoses in young people overlaps considerably with trends in diagnosed neurodevelopmental disorders. In addition, mental health diagnoses frequently intersect with physical conditions such as asthma, diabetes and epilepsy, which are more often present in children with mental disorders than in children without such disorders. Pediatric hospital admissions for non-behavioral disorders result in higher costs and longer stays when they are comorbid with behavioral disorders.

One of the few large-scale surveys to focus on MEB disorders in children (rather than adults) was the National Comorbidity Survey-Adolescent Supplement (NCS-A), conducted from 2001 to 2004. The NCS-A found that half of U.S. youth (ages 13-18) had been diagnosed with at least one MEB disorder—including one in five with behavior disorders and three in ten with anxiety disorders—with the impairments rated as “severe” in roughly one-fourth of the affected teens. For many of the young people, onset and diagnosis occurred well before adolescence. Reviewing the evidence, the National Research Council and Institute of Medicine reported in 2009 that “early MEB disorders should be considered as commonplace as a fractured limb: not inevitable but not at all unusual.”

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The impact

Recent research has documented some of the impact of these “commonplace” diagnoses in young people. Between 2011 and 2015, for example, visits by U.S. youth to psychiatric emergency departments increased by 28%. By age group, the largest increase—54%—was seen in adolescents (as compared to younger children or youth in their early 20s), in whom the researchers also reported a 2.5-fold increase in suicide-related visits. As of 2010, mood disorders (which include both bipolar and depressive disorders) were the most frequent principal diagnosis given to hospitalized children ages 1-17—up 80% since 1997. The hospitalization rate for bipolar disorders increased fourfold between the two time points (1997–2010), especially in the 10-14 and 15-17 age groups.

Researchers describe comorbid ADHD as “nearly universal” among youth with bipolar disorder, with ADHD and anxiety disorders viewed as common precursors of bipolar disorder. The trend toward increased diagnosis of both ADHD and bipolar disorder has prompted increased use by young people of both inpatient and outpatient mental health services as well as an exponential increase in the prescribing of medication. In office-based settings, where mental health care for young people has increased more rapidly than for adults, psychotropic medication prescriptions for younger patients are often provided by physicians with no psychiatric training.

For both ADHD and bipolar disorder, pharmacologic treatment relies heavily on powerful psychostimulants, antipsychotics and mood stabilizers. Reporting on data collected in 2011–2012, researchers noted that a large proportion (44%) of very young children diagnosed with ADHD (2- to 5-year-olds) were taking medication, most commonly central nervous system stimulants. Nationally, a survey of children with special health care needs conducted in 2009–2010 found that 74% of ADHD-diagnosed children ages 4-17 had received medication in the past week.

Both the scientific community and mainstream media have raised questions about whether widespread administration of mind-altering psychostimulants to young children is safe or “meaningfully beneficial.” In 2016, a Washington Post reporter cited CDC findings when noting that “The long-term effects of those [ADHD] drugs on a young brain and body have not been well studied, and the side effects can be numerous, including poor appetite, sleeplessness, irritability and slowed growth.” Other risks of these freely prescribed drugs include the potential to actually worsen mania, foster addiction or lead to further medication. In the push for increased treatment, clinicians have largely ignored these risks.

In some states, special education funding policies create financial incentives to actively identify and medicate children with ADHD. In those states, children are “about 15 percent more likely to report having ADHD and…about 22 percent more likely to be taking medication for ADHD.” As a medical ethicist has commented, these patterns raise questions about the “muddier” aspects of psychiatric diagnosis and the variability “as regards who and what drive [diagnostic] practices.”

The selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) commonly prescribed for depression and anxiety disorders have also raised serious concerns—particularly about their potential to promote suicidality, aggression or other unwanted outcomes in children and adolescents. In 2016, the Nordic Cochrane Centre systematically reviewed clinical study reports from 70 trials of SSRIs and similar drugs and described substantial under-reporting of harms. Even with the under-reporting, the reviewed evidence linked the drugs to a doubling in the risk of suicidality and aggression in children and adolescents.

Why is this happening?

Researchers have floated many hypotheses about the underlying causes of the burgeoning youth mental health crisis. But while the mainstream media have been more than willing to give airtime to social explanations such as smartphone use and academic stress, the public has seen far less discussion of other plausible factors such as the gut-brain connection. For example, there is a complex interplay between the gut microbiome, the immune response and vaccination—and experimental evidence links vaccines and vaccine adjuvants to adverse mental health symptoms. There is also ample experimental evidence showing that gut microbiota disruptions caused by subchronic and chronic exposure to glyphosate-based herbicides can increase anxiety and depression-like behaviors at virtually any age. Moreover, research findings are suggestive of potential transgenerational effects of both vaccines and glyphosate. Rather than acquiesce to the perpetuation of hair-splitting mental health diagnoses—and the pharmaceutical “solutions” that always seem to follow close behind—it would seem wise to scrutinize these pervasive environmental threats while keeping in mind the age-old question of cui bono.

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