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The Special Ed Epidemic: Uncovering the Answers (Part 4)

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By Sheri A. Marino, MA, CCC-SLP for Focus for HealthWorld Mercury ProjectPartner

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In this four-part series, World Mercury Project’s partner, Focus for Health (FFH), examined thespecial education epidemic, its crippling effects on the US economy, as well as housing and employment issues for individuals with disabilities once they age out of school. Now, let’s look at what could be causing this epidemic, and unlike the broken regulatory agencies and healthcare system, put an end to this crisis by empowering the public with the knowledge to help make informed decisions.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has just announced that autism prevalence is up 16% with new data showing that 1 in 59 US children have autism.  Autism, developmental delays, and chronic illnesses including allergies and asthma are at an all-time high, affecting 1 in 6 children across the US. The CDC reports that disability costs our nation $400 billion annually in healthcare expenditures.  Autism alone is on track to cost the US $460 billion dollars annually by 2025. Genetic studies have failed to turn up genes responsible for allergies, asthma, autism, or ADHD, yet funding for research identifying environmental causes pales in comparison to funding for genetic studies.

Although genetics plays a role in many disease processes, environmental influences can be triggers that turn on those genes.  Known as epigenetics,  gene expression can be altered from exposures to environmental toxins which can lead to negative health outcomes.

While we may not be able to control our genetic make-up, knowing how certain genetic conditions may affect us and our offspring allows us to take every precaution possible to manage those conditions. Likewise, we may not be able to avoid all environmental toxins, however, if given essential information, individuals can make choices about what environmental risks they are willing to take to keep their total toxic load at a minimum.

A combination of genetic vulnerability and environmental exposures creates susceptibilities for oxidative stress, mitochondrial dysfunction, endocrine disruption, and chronic inflammation ultimately leading to immune dysregulation.

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Toxins are found in the air we breathe, the water we drink, the food we eat, the products we use, and the vaccines we inject.

If manufacturers like Monsanto (being purchased by Bayer for $62.5 billion) monopolize the food industry, our right to make healthy food choices free of toxins such as pesticides and herbicides is significantly reduced.

If the pharmaceutical industry is not effectively managed by regulatory agencies, we will continue to be manipulated by advertisements for those very same medications which are responsible for poor health outcomes in our children.

If our state governments continue on the path of mandating vaccines, we lose our choice to say no to medical procedures which contain neurotoxins such as mercury and aluminum.

Taking control of our health and the destinies of our offspring starts with having the basic human right to do so. That begins with having essential information which empowers us to make the best decisions for ourselves and our children, and that ends when our basic human rights are taken from us. For all medical procedures, this is the basis of informed consent.

WHAT DOES THE SCIENCE SAY?

Through an extensive review of the research, FFH presents a collection of science-based theories on the causation of chronic disease and developmental disability. Individuals are not always informed of their risks by the medical community. While some risks are unavoidable, FFH believes knowledge is power and with access to information, individuals can learn what their risks are to make better healthcare decisions to potentiate positive outcomes, and ultimately protect vulnerable children.

…children who were exposed to more toxins in the womb had more autistic-like behaviors.

What the Science Says on Environmental Exposures

Toxins exist naturally in the environment, however, toxin exposure has increased in developed countries due to the increased use of pesticides and production of synthetic chemicals to manufacture foods and other products. Studies show environmental toxins result in epigenetic alterations to DNA leading to many chronic health issues and disorders.

Toxins can affect the functioning of the brain, heart, lungs, nervous system, and can also alter the bacteria that compose an individual’s microbiome. Furthermore, some toxins act as endocrine disruptors, meaning that they interfere with the body’s biological signals and hormonal system.

The toxins a mother encounters throughout her life will accumulate in her body. This is known as her “body burden.” A mother’s body burden will affect the environment of her womb, which may have a direct impact on the development of her baby. A fetus is particularly susceptible to toxicity because its organs are developing and it has not yet developed its brain-blood barrier.

One study from the Journal Environmental Health Perspectives, has found that children who were exposed to more toxins in the womb had more autistic-like behaviors. Anotherstudy found that close proximity to certain pesticides during pregnancy increases the risk of having a child with autism by 60%. Toxin exposure during pregnancy is also associated with high blood pressure, ADHD, heart disease, and various mental disorders. The Environmental Working Group identified 287 toxins in an umbilical cord. Of these chemicals, 180 are known carcinogens to humans and animals, 217 are toxic to the nervous system, and 208 are known to cause birth defects in animal tests. Studies also show that pesticide exposure impacts sperm quality in men, which can affect pregnancy outcomes.

What the Science Says on Diet

According to the CDC, more than half of children worldwide ages 6 months to 5 years suffer from one or more micronutrient deficiencies.  Studies have found that micronutrient deficiencies can negatively impact growth, cognitive ability, neurological, and immune system functioning. One study has found that individuals with ASD are more likely to have micronutrient deficiencies. Another study found that children who consume diets high in fats are more likely to have cognitive impairments. Other studieshave found that children who eat more fruits and vegetables have better cardiovascular health compared to those who do not, and they have better health outcomes as adults. Their findings indicate what people eat when they are young is more important for achieving good health outcomes than what people eat when they are older.

Chemical pesticides such as glyphosate are used in agriculture to protect produce against weeds, insects, and other plant diseases.

Pesticides may be toxic to humans, and regular consumption of pesticides from a young age can heighten an individual’s risk for various health problems. Pesticides have been linked to respiratory problems, immune system problems, gastrointestinal issues, impaired cognition and memory, neurological diseases, and various cancers.

There is mounting evidence that suggests gestational pesticide exposure can lead to developmental delays or autism.

Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) are an additional dietary concern for children and adults. Crops which are genetically modified to withstand pesticides, to self-produce insecticides, or to exhibit other desirable traits, are claimed to be harmless to humans, however, comprehensive long-term studies are lacking and some studies show that GMO’s may be hazardous. One study has found that the increasing incidence of 22 different chronic diseases can be linked to the increased use of GMOs in agriculture.

There is a lack of studies that examine the relationship between EMF exposure, autism, and other health conditions. However, some reports suggest that EMF exposure increases the risk for autism and can increase the severity of autism symptoms.

What the Science Says on Electromagnetic Fields (EMF)

Electromagnetic radiation exists naturally in the environment. However, the expansion of technology in the 20th Century has introduced an increasing number of manmade electromagnetic field sources into the environment. Today, 100% of the population is exposed to EMF. The 5 most common sources of EMF include electric fields, magnetic fields, power lines, metal plumbing, and wireless communication.

There appears to be a subset of the population that is more susceptible to EMF than the majority of the population. These individuals are proposed to have “electromagnetic hypersensitivity”. They may experience skin conditions (redness, tingling), fatigue, dizziness, nausea, digestive disturbances, and concentration issues. This condition is somewhat akin to multiple chemical sensitivities.

One study suggests there are “remarkable similar biological features between EMF exposure and ASD from cellular oxidative stress to malfunctioning membranes, channels and barriers to genotoxicity, mitochondrial dysfunction, immune abnormalities, inflammatory issues, neuropathological disruption and electrophysiological dysregulation”. This study also suggests the rise in ASD is parallel with the increase in electromagnetic and radio frequency exposures over the past few decades.

There is a lack of studies that examine the relationship between EMF exposure, autism, and other health conditions. However, some reports suggest that EMF exposure increases the risk for autism and can increase the severity of autism symptoms.

…calculations show that the levels of aluminum suggested by the World Health Organization place infants at risk of acute, repeated, and possibly chronic exposures of toxic levels of aluminum in modern vaccine schedules.

What the Science Says on Aluminum

Aluminum is neurotoxic. Aluminum exposure has been associated with disorders including Alzheimer’s and autism. This metal is found in foods we eat, the water we drink, products we use on our bodies, and it is used as an adjuvant in vaccines to enhance immunogenicity. Neurotoxic effects of aluminum are controversial however, a study of human brain tissue from donors with autism showed consistently high levels of aluminum content present in microglia like cells and cells in the meninges, vasculature, and grey and white matter. While regulatory agencies determine how much aluminum is needed to enhance antigenicity and effectiveness of vaccines, they do not take into account safety considerations. In fact, no known published studies have determined levels of aluminum in vaccines based on safety studies.

A new report titled “Reconsideration of the immunotherapeutic pediatric safe dose levels of aluminum” states “When aluminum doses are estimated from Federal Regulatory Code given body weight, exposure from the current vaccine schedule are found to exceed our estimate of a weight corrected Pediatric Dose Limit. Our calculations show that the levels of aluminum suggested by the World Health Organization place infants at risk of acute, repeated, and possibly chronic exposures of toxic levels of aluminum in modern vaccine schedules.”

There is no safe level of mercury exposure.

What the Science Says on Mercury

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), mercury is considered to be among the top ten chemicals of major public health concern. It is known to impact the brain, heart, lungs, gastrointestinal tract, kidneys, and immune system. There is no safe level of mercury exposure.

Dental Amalgams

Dental amalgams have been used for the past 150 years by the dental industry to fill cavities. Dental amalgams contain mercury, a known neurotoxin dangerous to humans even in trace amounts. Mercury vapor leaks from dental amalgams and accumulates in various body tissues or organs. Therefore, the fetus of a mother with dental amalgams will be exposed to mercury for the entire duration of the pregnancy. Mercury is known to cross the placenta, and directly impact the fetus, where it can interfere with the development of the fetus’ brain and central nervous system. The child may continue to be exposed after birth through the mother’s breast milk. One study found 6 or more dental amalgams in the mother raises the risk of having a child with autism 3.2-fold. Furthermore, the severity of autistic behaviors increases with the number of a mother’s dental amalgams.

Other sources of mercury include some over the counter medications, personal care products, and certain fishes such as tuna. In addition, some vaccines still contain mercury.

Mercury in thimerosal has been linked to tics, speech delay and language delay in children (Thompson et al. 2007 NEJM, Barile et al. 2013 J Pediatr Psychol, Verstraeten et al. 2003 Pediatrics, Andrews et al. 2004 Pediatrics) and many published studies also show a relationship with autism and ASD (Geier et al. 2013 Translational Neurodegeneration 2:25, among others).

The CDC recommends pregnant women receive the flu shot, however, if the shot comes from a multi-dose vial, it also contains mercury from the preservative thimerosal. Multi-dose vials are often provided to clinics and pharmacies in lower socio-economic areas. It is estimated that during the 2017-2018 flu season, 20-30 million of the influenza vaccines distributed will contain thimerosal. Thimerosal-containing vaccines (TCV’s) may expose pregnant women to 25 micrograms of mercury. With no blood-brain barrier, the fetus is also exposed as the mercury accumulates in the placenta and cord blood. Furthermore, as indicated in the vaccine manufacturer’s product inserts, no safety or efficacy studies have been conducted on pregnant women or their infants.

…women receiving the seasonal flu shot in the first trimester of pregnancy had 25% greater odds of having a child with ASD.

What the Science Says on Maternal Immune Activation (MIA)

During pregnancy, the developing fetus is vulnerable to the mother’s normal biological response to immune challenge. Recent epidemiological studies indicate that prenatal exposure to inflammatory signals from parasitic, bacterial and viral pathogens including the flu, shows significant correlations with neurological and immunological abnormalities, like autism spectrum disorder. Termed maternal immune activation (MIA), the role of inflammatory mediators during critical gestational periods has been shown to have adverse effects on fetal development.

There are many ways in which the maternal immune system can be activated. A study titled “Prenatal Fever and Autism Risk”supports the hypothesis that maternal fever in pregnancy, regardless of trimester and cause of the fever, is associated with increased risk of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) among offspring. While earlier studies found that prenatal exposure to infectious agents increased the risk of ASD in offspring, this study supports more recent findings that activation of the maternal immune system has deleterious effects on fetal brain development and plays a role in neurodevelopmental consequences. In this study, fever-associated ASD risk increased markedly with fever frequency particularly after 12 weeks gestation. Acetaminophen worked minimally to mitigate the risks for fevers occurring in the second trimester. Of the 538 cases, ASD was five times more prevalent in boys than girls. The authors’ findings support the hypothesis that in a subset of ASD cases, fever and associated immune disturbances may be implicated.

Vaccines are designed and intended to produce the same biological immune response as natural infection.  When a person gets a vaccine, whether during pregnancy or at any other time, an immune response to that vaccine occurs.

Studies show that roughly 5% of the general population will acquire the influenza virus annually, however, if the influenza vaccine does its job, immune activation will occur in 100% of pregnant women who receive the flu shot. Although the Zerbo et al. paper did not show a correlation between the actual flu in pregnancy and ASD, it did show women receiving the seasonal flu shot in the first trimester of pregnancy had 25% greater odds of having a child with ASD.

What the Science Says on Autoimmune Disease

Autoimmunity occurs when the immune system mistakenly targets the body’s own cells, tissues, or organs as opposed to foreign antigens invading the body. These self-destructive antibodies create inflammation processes ultimately causing organ damage. Autoimmunity is a result of defects in the B and/or T cells of the immune system and is believed to result from the interplay of genetics, infections, and other environmental exposures.

Mothers with abnormal autoimmune antibodies have a greater risk of poor pregnancy outcomes.  There is mounting evidence that shows a mother with autoimmune antibodies is more likely to produce anti-brain antibodies that can cross the placenta and attack the fetal brain, inducing fetal brain inflammationOne study shows mothers of children with autism are 4 times more likely to carry brain reactive antibodies than mothers of typically developing children. Mothers with brain-reactive antibodies were also likely to have an increased prevalence of autoimmune diseases, especially rheumatoid arthritis and systemic lupus erythematosus.

Mother’s with celiac disease have a particularly high risk of bearing children with autism or other chronic illness. Celiac disease, a genetic disorder of the small intestine triggered by dietary exposure to gluten (a protein found in wheat), is associated with inflammation, diarrhea, malabsorption, and other gastrointestinal issues. Untreated celiac disease may result in impaired fertility and adverse pregnancy outcomes from autoimmune related mechanisms or nutrient deficiencies. According to this study, “Celiac disease, especially if untreated, appears to increase the risk of repeated miscarriages and premature deliveries, and impaired fetal growth with reduced birthweight.”  Additionally, the rate of cesarean delivery was increased if the parents had celiac disease.

Other autoimmune diseases that appear to increase the risk of ASD in offspring include lupus erythematosus, rheumatoid arthritis, and type 1 and type 2 Diabetes. Women with rheumatoid arthritis were 80% more likely to have a child with ASD, while children born to diabetic mothers are 4 times more likely to develop autism.

What the Science Says on MTHFR Mutations

Methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase (MTHFR) is a gene that is responsible for producing an enzyme that converts folic acid to methylfolate, a bioavailable form of vitamin B9. Nutrient deficiencies of Vitamin B6, B12, and folate increase homocysteine levels which cause inflammation in the body. The ability of this gene to turn this switch on or off is crucial for the production of glutathione, the body’s most important antioxidant.

Glutathione plays a major role in the body’s detoxification of harmful, disease causing toxins. When the body’s ability to produce glutathione is decreased, secondary to genetic mutations like an MTHFR mutation, the disease process is enhanced due to the build-up of toxicity in the body. Disorders such as autism, ADHD, autoimmune diseases, multiple sclerosis, fibromyalgia, heart disease, addiction, miscarriages, and neural tube defectshave been linked to MTHFR mutations. Mutations in MTHFR may lead to a condition called homocystinuria, a disorder where there are abnormal levels of homocysteine and methionine in the body which may lead to eye problems, cognitive issues, abnormal blood clotting, skeletal and congenital heart abnormalities.

Glutathione’s key role is the maintenance of intracellular redox balance (oxidation-reduction) and the detoxification of xenobiotics (a chemical or substance foreign to the body). A defective MTHFR gene creates a vulnerability to disease processes as detoxification is impaired, leaving the body more susceptible to oxidative stress, and less tolerant of toxins such as heavy metals.

In children with ASD, the heterozygous allele frequency occurred in 56% of children, whereby the frequency was significantly lower in the control group (41%). This could indicate that there is a genomic vulnerability in the folate pathway to environmental risk factors. Although a review of the research indicates conflicting analysis, some studies show an association exists between MTHFR polymorphisms and an increased risk of ASD, suggesting the modulating role of folate may be affected by the MTHFR genotype. Another study suggests that the enhanced maternal folate status before and during pregnancy may alter natural selection by increasing survival rates of fetuses who have an MTHFR mutation. Presumably, infants with an MTHFR polymorphism cannot maintain the higher folate status after birth, affecting neurodevelopment from the inability to detoxify environmental toxins. For example, individuals with ASD have been shown to have higher levels of heavy metals in their blood, leading researchers to believe that the MTHFR polymorphisms may be partly responsible for increasing their toxicity. While an association is likely, it is unlikely that this mutation is solely responsible for complex neurodevelopmental disorders and more probable that influencing co-factors exist.

Furthermore, only 2 out of the 54 most commonly used prescription and over-the-counter medications have enough data available to determine how they can impact a pregnancy.

What the Science Says on Medication Use During Pregnancy

Prescription drugs may impact the fetus through several mechanisms. They can directly damage the fetus by crossing the placenta, alter the functioning capacity of the placenta so that the fetus’ oxygen and nutrient supply is reduced, induce forceful uterine contractions which can injure the fetus, or indirectly harm the fetus by affecting the internal environment of the mother.

The CDC reports that prescription and over-the-counter medication use during pregnancy has increased by 70% over the past 3 decades. Less than 10% of all medications approved by the FDA since 1980 have been studied well enough to assess their risk for birth complications, and, pregnant women are not included in drug safety trials because of liability concerns. Furthermore, only 2 out of the 54 most commonly used prescription and over-the-counter medications have enough data available to determine how they can impact a pregnancy.

There have been many studies conducted over the years that have examined how specific prescription medications taken during pregnancy may affect the health outcomes of children. Prescription medications that have been associated with an increased risk of birth defects or other childhood health complications include antidepressants, hypertension medications, mycophenolate mofetil (for treating autoimmune diseases), anti-epileptic medications, clomiphene citrate (to treat infertility), sulfonamide and  nitrofurantoin (to treat infections), and opioids.

A study from JAMA found that taking antidepressants during the second or third trimester of a pregnancy increased the risk of having a child with autism by 87%, and that selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) taken at any point during the pregnancy were associated with an even greater risk of having a child with autism. These researchers note that SSRIs can cross the placenta and impact the development of the fetus.  There is also evidence that autistic individuals have high levels of serotonin in their blood platelets and that their brains synthesize serotonin atypically.  Another studyfound that the asthma drugs- beta-2 adrenergic receptor (B2AR) agonists taken 90 days before pregnancy or during pregnancy increase the risk of having a child with autism.

Antibiotic use both medically and agriculturally is a major health concern. The CDC states that approximately 29% of antibiotic prescriptions in the United States in 2015 for children 0-19 years of age were unnecessary. Excessive antibiotic use puts the recipients at risk for adverse reactions or infection and can result in long-term alterations to the recipient’s microbiome. A healthy microbiome is essential for regular metabolism, vitamin production, and homeostasis regulation. Furthermore, babies born vaginally receive their mother’s microbiome as they pass through the birth canal. A mother’s microbiome will be altered when she takes antibiotics before or during pregnancy and can pass this altered microbiome to her child during childbirth.

One study has found that the antibiotics amoxicillin and clavulanate specifically may be contributing to the rise of autism. According to the study, after the introduction of these antibiotics in 1987, the state of California reported an increase in the rate of autism by 273% in a single year. The study proposes that the production of these antibiotics may yield high levels of urea/ammonia in the child. Another study found evidence that taking antibiotics during pregnancy can induce neurodevelopmental changes in the fetus in utero.

Agricultural antibiotics account for approximately 80% of all antibiotic usage in the United States. Animals are treated with low dose antibiotics to prevent the spread of disease and to promote growth. These antibiotics are transferred to humans through the meat we consume, as well as through the crops that were fertilized with the animals’ waste. Consumption of food contaminated with antibiotics can induce the same health consequences as prescribed antibiotics.

…acetaminophen use during pregnancy was associated with a 50% increase in the risk of having a child with autism and hyperkinetic disorder.

Specific over-the-counter medications have also been found to impact the health of the fetus. The commonly used drugs Ibuprofen, ketoprofen, and naproxen are some examples. Acetaminophen has long been considered relatively safe to take during pregnancy, however, acetaminophen use during pregnancy was associated with a 50% increase in the risk of having a child with autism and hyperkinetic disorder. Also, a longer duration of acetaminophen use resulted in a 2-fold increase in the risk of having a child with autism.

Since pregnant women are excluded from trials, some drugs are tested on pregnant animals instead. However, animal studies should not be considered reliable in determining the safety of a drug, as exemplified by the thalidomide incident in the 1950s. Thalidomide was a drug that was intended to treat morning sickness in pregnant women. Although it did not have any adverse effects on the pregnancy outcomes of rats during animal studies, it was found to cause severe and often fatal birth defects in infants and is now recognized as one of the most hazardous known human teratogens.

Although many studies have found associations between medications taken during pregnancy and poor childhood health outcomes, researchers state in their discussions that the exact mechanism through which the drug impacts the fetus remains uncertain.

What the Science Says on Chronic Ear Infections

Ear infections are bacterial or viral infections that occur in the middle ear. Children who experience chronic ear infections should be treated with caution as this could be an indication of a weak, dysregulated, or overactive immune system.

They may be more susceptible to infections, or their immune systems may respond abnormally to environmental triggers. In addition, ear infections are associated with auditory processing problems, which can contribute to learning disabilities or cognitive impairments. Studies have found that children with autism experience chronic ear infections more frequently than their non-autistic counterparts, which may be because individuals with ASD often have dysregulated immune systems.

Ear infections are typically treated with antibiotics. However, antibiotics can alter a child’s gut flora, which may also result in long-term health consequences. A study by B.E. Haley, suggested that the antibiotics ampicillin and tetracycline, which are used to treat such infections, can increase susceptibility to mercury poisoning. Therefore, there is potential for increased risk of vaccine related adverse events.

One study led by Eileen Curran has found that CD’s increase the risk of autism or autism-related symptoms in a child by as much as 23%.

What the Science Says on Cesarean Deliveries

Cesarean deliveries (CD’s) have risen by 48% since 1996, and now account for 32% of all births in the U.S. The trend of elective CD’s continues to increase. While some CD’s are unavoidable, many are scheduled out of convenience for the family or physician. CD’s are associated with negative health outcomes for the baby and there are multiple mechanisms for these outcomes.

Researchers believe Cesarean deliveries can alter an infant’s microbiome by depriving him or her of the beneficial bacteria he or she receives while passing through the birth canal in a vaginal delivery.  A compromised microbiome can lead to impaired immunity and metabolic dysregulation.

Several studies have found an association between Cesarean deliveries and autism. One study led by Eileen Curran has found that CD’s increase the risk of autism or autism-related symptoms in a child by as much as 23%.

In another study, researchers found approximately 40% greater risk of developing immune defects and a 10% greater risk of developing juvenile rheumatoid arthritis when born by CD. Additionally, the study shows children are more frequently hospitalized due to asthma, juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disorder, immune system defects, leukemia, and other tissue disorders.

What the Science Says on Breast Feeding

Breastfeeding is important for a baby’s health. It provides the baby with necessary nutrients, helps to strengthen the baby’s immune system, and promotes growth. Various studies have found that children who were breastfed exclusively for the first 6 months of life were less likely to contract an infection, develop diseases, or develop allergies. Furthermore, breastmilk is more easily digested, promotes digestive health, and helps to establish and maintain the child’s microbiome.

A study from Science Daily has found that breastfeeding reduces the chance that a mother’s child will develop autism. According to this study, a child may develop autism because his brain neurons are unmyelinated. Demyelination may occur because the child has an inadequate supply of insulin-like growth factor (IGF), which is due to a combination of environmental and genetic factors. The study proposes that breast milk, which contains IGF, increases deficient IGF levels in susceptible children and helps to prevent the onset of autism.

A mother’s breast milk, however, can also create vulnerability in her child. There is mounting evidence that shows toxins in a mother’s breastmilk increases the chances that a child will develop autism or other health complications. A mother may be exposed to toxins through her environment or diet.

Babies are particularly susceptible to toxin exposure because they are at a stage of rapid physical development and their immune systems are not fully developed. Breastfeeding provides the most health benefits for the child if the mother’s diet is healthy and clean.

What the Science Says on Low Birth Weight

The average baby weighs 8 pounds. Any baby born less than 5 pounds and 8 ounces is considered low birth weight. Low birth weight is associated with various health complications such as poor growth, increased susceptibility to infection, and a higher risk of developing neurological problems.

The two main causes of low birth weight include preterm birth and intrauterine growth restriction. Risk factors for low birth weight include poor maternal health, toxin exposure, nutrient deficiency, preexisting chronic or autoimmune disease, and low socioeconomic status. According to the CDC, mothers without a college education are29% more likely to have underweight babies.

One study found that low birth weight was associated with irregular brain structure development and smaller total brain volume. The finding indicates that birthweight can have a profound influence on health outcomes later in life.  Another study found that 5% of babies born weighing less than 4.7 pounds developed autism, while 11% of babies born weighing less than 3.5 pounds developed autism. The researchers believe that the risk for autism increases with decreasing birth weight.

What the Science Says on Chronic Stress During Pregnancy

Since maternal immune response, absent of infection in the fetus, can cause harm to the fetal brain, maternal stress therefore creates vulnerability. Studies have shown that prenatal maternal stress (PNMS) increases the production of stress hormones like cortisol which prepares individuals to deal with stress. Cortisol plays a role in the development of the fetus and in preparing the mother’s body for childbirth. However, attenuations of elevated maternal cortisol from chronic stress can cause immune dysregulation and chronic inflammation which greatly increases the risk of poor health outcomes in the fetus. Research suggeststhat offspring of mothers who experience high levels of stress during pregnancy are more likely to have problems in neurobehavioral development including autism and ADHD and have an increased risk for childhood behavior and emotional problems, language delay, cognitive problems, mixed handedness, and later onset disorders such as schizophrenia.

Additionally, maternal stress as a social determinant of health creates vulnerability in children as it is associated with low birth weight, diminishes innate immunity, and increases the likelihood of neurological dysfunction.

What the Science Says on High Testosterone

Hormones play a central role in body functions and processes, including growth and development, behavior, metabolism, reproduction, and fetal development. Fetal and maternal hormone levels are required in precise amounts at different points during the pregnancy to dictate the migration of fetal cells and mediate fetal growth. Any alterations in these hormone levels can impact the development of the fetus.

Amniotic fluids of mothers whose children developed autism were found to have elevated levels of testosterone, other sex hormones, and cortisol compared to the amniotic fluids of mothers whose children developed normally.

Male fetuses are particularly susceptible to sex hormones, and overexposure to sex hormones in the womb has been linked to reproductive malformations. It has been found that every one-percent increase in reproductive malformations in a given area is associated with a 283% increase in the rate of autism and a 94% increase in intellectual disability.

Testosterone works synergistically with mercury to enhance its toxicity. This may contribute to poor pregnancy outcomes in mothers who receive certain vaccinations during pregnancy or in those who are exposed to mercury from other sources.

What the Science Says on Advanced Parental Age

Researchers believe there are many associations with parental age at the time of conception and its deleterious effects on children’s health. Studies have shown advancing paternal and maternal age were both associated with poor pregnancy outcomes.

In one study, fathers over 50 years of age had a 66% higher chance of having a child with autism. This same study also found mothers over age 40 and under age 20 increased the risk of autism. A second study shows father’s over age 45 at time of conception, when compared with fathers between 20-24 yrs. of age, had a heightened chance of having offspring with autism, ADHD, bipolar disorder, and other psychiatric and academic morbidities. The effects of advanced paternal age on semen quality are controversial. However, the literature strongly points to issues with spermatogenesis, specifically epigenetic changes, and DNA mutations associated with increased paternal age.

Women, born with a set number of eggs, may be more susceptible to de novo mutations when an older egg is fertilized. These first time mutations are believed to be influenced by epigenetic changes affecting DNA replication, thereby increasing the rate of autism and other chronic health issues in the offspring. Epigenetic alterations associated with age can result from long-term exposures to environmental toxins, substance abuse, prescription medication usage, and diet. While younger moms have had less exposure to environmental toxins, researchers speculate their associated risk may be related to immature reproductive systems. Researchers also suggest disparity of more than 10 years between parents’ ages has also been shown to increase the risk of autism, although the mechanism is unknown.

There is contradictory evidence to support to what extent the age of the parents affects the health outcomes of their children. For example, a study published in Evolution, Medicine and Public Health, found that while children of older parents are more likely to have autism, they are not more likely to have other neurological disorders such as schizophrenia. However, another study by Nature Genetics, finds older fathers have a higher risk of psychiatric disorders like schizophrenia.  Furthermore, many studies draw contradictory conclusions as to which age brackets pose the highest risk for poor health outcomes of children. Ultimately, researchers believe there are underlying reasons as to why older parents are more likely to have children with autism, however, the exact mechanisms are unknown.

Many theories above are controversial because scientific studies sometimes contradict each other. This could be due to many factors including sample size, bias, and sometimes interpretation. When studies continue to show evidence supporting both sides, the science is not settled.  When it comes to protecting our children’s health, minimizing risks should be the only thing that is mandatory.

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Alternative News

A Jury’s $289 Million Verdict Against Monsanto Might Be Overturned By The Judge

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    Dewayne Johnson was the first lawsuit alleging glyphosate causes cancer to go to trial. He ended up winning and was awarded nearly $300 million. Now, the judge is threatening to overall the decision made by the Jury.

  • Reflect On:

    How can corporations like Monsanto and government regulatory agencies constantly approve products that an uncountable amount of research and science has shown is harmful to human health as well as the environment.

Not long ago, school groundskeeper Dewayne Johnson became involved in the very first lawsuit to go to trial alleging glyphosate causes cancer. The case made global headlines when the jury at San Francisco’s Superior Court of California deliberated for three days before finding that Monsanto had failed to warn Johnson and other consumers of the cancer risks posed by its weed killers. We’ve seen the same issue with similar substances like DDT, which was sprayed for years before it was finally banned decades ago. The unfortunate thing is that DDT is still highly present in the environment and in our soil, and is a catalyst for many diseases. Are we seeing the same thing with Glyphosate?

The court ended up awarding $39 million in compensation and $250 million in punitive damages. It’s also vital to mention that Monsanto, now a unit of Bayer AG following a $62.5 billion acquisition by the German conglomerate, faces more than 5,000 similar lawsuits across the United States.

Grounds For Reversal?

Now, just two months after jurors made the decision in favor of Johnson, who is dying of cancer, the judge suddenly has an issue with the amount and might overrule the decision. Again, Johnson is one of the thousands of cancer patients that are taking Monsanto to trial. The judge is apparently calling for a new trial, and she has now granted Monsanto a request for a JNOW on a tentative basis. A JNOW is a judgement notwithstanding the verdict. This is basically when a judge in a civil case overrules the jury’s decision.

This is extremely confusing, isn’t it? What prompted the judge to do this, and did Monsanto have anything to do with it? And even if the judge denies Monsanto’s request to drop the $250 million fine, the Court would grant a new trial on the grounds of ‘insufficiency of evidence’ to justify the award for punitive damages–this after the evidence was found to be quite sufficient at the time.

Even the jurors are speaking out, according to CTV news:

Jurors who found that agribusiness giant Monsanto’s Roundup weed killer contributed to a school groundskeeper’s cancer are urging a San Francisco judge not to throw out the bulk of their $289 million award in his favour, a newspaper reported Monday.

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Stock Drop

Shares in Bayer, which bought Monsanto as mentioned earlier, dropped immediately after the original decision and hasn’t risen since. It’s still trading at approximately 30 percent below its pre-verdict value. The statement given by Bayer after the initial decision does its best to restore confidence in their product:

The jury’s decision is wholly at odds with over 40 years of real-world use, an extensive body of scientific data and analysis…which support the conclusion that glyphosate-based herbicides are safe for use and do not cause cancer in humans. (source)

This statement strongly goes against the statements made by thousands of scientists across the world.

“It is commonly believed that Roundup is among the safest pesticides… Despite its reputation, Roundup was by far the most toxic among the herbicides and insecticides tested. This inconsistency between scientific fact and industrial claim may be attributed to huge economic interests, which have been found to falsify health risk assessments and delay health policy decisions.” – R. Mesnage et al., Biomed Research International, Volume 2014 (2014) article ID 179691

Keep in mind that the use of glyphosate rose 1500% from 1995 to 2005, and that 100 million pounds of glyphosate is used every year on more than a billion acres. (Cherry, B., “GM crops increase herbicide use in the United States,” Science in Society 45, 44-46, 2010) (source)

Years Of Activism

The alarming thing is that for decades, scientists, activist groups and environmental/health awareness groups have been creating awareness and presenting the science explaining how and why Monsanto’s glyphosate (the main ingredient in their Roundup herbicide) causes cancer, among other diseases. Despite the fact that this has been happening for years, the political stranglehold these corporations have on governmental regulatory agencies has prevented this information from being taken seriously.

If the truth was widely known it would result in an unfathomable drop in profit for Monsanto’s products which contain glyphosate, but mostly in North America. Many countries have completely banned the ingredient and other Monsanto products, due to clear links to diseases like cancer and kidney disease, for example. In fact, most of the products manufactured by Monsanto and other giant North American biotech companies are completely banned and illegal in many other countries.

It makes you wonder how such a substance can go through the review process, whatever it is, and still be approved for use. Monsanto has been sued many times; in fact one lawsuit unearthed documents showing how Monsanto misled regulators and scientists to speed up approval for the development of genetically modified foods. You can read more about that here. So, the science itself becomes subject to fraud when power and money are applied. Roundup herbicide is over one hundred times more toxic than regulators claim. And a new study published in the journal Biomedical Research International showed how Roundup herbicide is 125 times more toxic than its active ingredient glyphosate studied in isolation. You can read more about that here.

We are talking about clear hormone disrupters and clear catalysts for cancer. Decades of science and scientific fraud that’s been exposed has forced the World Health Organisation, a major hub of the establishment that seems to regulate the shady industry of health, to finally admit that glyphosate, like cigarettes, processed foods and meats, is carcinogenic.

Clear Injustice

This judge’s reversal will end up having enormous financial and reputational repercussions for the corporation, and it seems obvious that she has been influenced by power and money. The truth is, if you take the scientific evidence, as well as clear evidence of scientific fraud and corruption by these corporate and government agencies (who are constantly in collusion with one another), there is no jury on the planet that would not reach a guilty verdict. That’s because the evidence is quite clear, which is why if this decision was going to be reversed, it would have to be the Judge over-ruling the jury’s decision.

This verdict proves that when ordinary citizens, in this case a jury of 12, hear the facts about Monsanto’s products, and the lengths to which this company has gone to buy off scientists, deceive the public and influence government regulatory agencies, there is no confusion.”  Ronnie Cummins, International Director of the organic consumers association

At the end of the day, we are the ones using these products and we are the ones voting with our dollar. That being said, it completely goes against our free will and interests for products to be approved that are obviously completely unsafe. It’s unfortunate that those who choose not to use these products or be near them, still end up with it in our system. The fact that Monsanto can still somehow fight this and provide evidence means our work is not yet done.

The Takeaway

The work of many brave activists has brought awareness to the severe health risks of glyphosate and Roundup, but to honor all their efforts we must continue to spread awareness about these corporate crimes until the time comes when these chemicals have been removed from all corners of the Earth.

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The Man The CIA Wants You To Forget

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    Former LAPD Narcotics Detective and whistleblower Michael Ruppert spent years speaking out against the CIA for allegedly running drugs throughout the USA. He was found dead in 2014 by an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound to his head.

  • Reflect On:

    Why do we continue to give credibility to agencies like the CIA who have been caught abusing their power time and time again? Who's watching the watchers? What can we do to better protect whistleblowers when they come forward?

Michael C. Ruppert was an ex-LAPD Narcotics Detective and whistleblower who came out against the CIA in the late 70’s. He claimed they tried to enlist him in protecting and helping to facilitate their drug running practices. When Ruppert declined involvement and came forward he said he was threatened, wrongly discredited, and even shot at, but that didn’t stop him from speaking up.

“I will tell you, director Deutch, that as a former LosAngeles police narcotics detective that the agency has dealt drugs throughout this country for a long time.” – Michael C. Ruppert

At a now infamous town hall hearing in LA, he faced off against the chief of the CIA with a packed room of people from the South-Central area cheering him on from the crowd. It was not only the unlawful behavior Ruppert wanted to expose, but also the incredible hypocrisy of the CIA and the LAPD for bringing cocaine and other drugs into the community, and then locking up small-time drug dealers and users.

These imported drugs were ripping apart communities with widespread effects like addiction, increased crime and gang activity, overdose deaths, and many incarcerations that broke up families leading to cycles of crime that spanned generations. You can see the video of the emotional town hall meeting below.

He Didn’t Stop There

Michael Ruppert spent most of his life trying to expose criminality at the highest levels. Tackling everything from the peak oil crisis to the military industrial complex. He also believed that 9/11 was allowed to happen by the Bush administration.

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” 9-11 was a predictable event and it was motivated precisely and solely by Peak Oil and nothing else.” – Michael C. Ruppert (source)

Ruppert became a published author and gained more notoriety for his controversial book “Confronting Collapse: The Crisis of Energy and Money in a Post Peak Oil World.”  That ended up inspiring the eye-opening documentary “Collapse”, which is a worthwhile watch to start understanding the deep levels of corruption and cover-up that has been taking place around the globe.

No matter your thoughts on the legitimacy of Ruppert’s claims, it’s clear he wasn’t afraid of taking on the Goliaths of the world but for doing so was branded by many throughout the mainstream media as a wild conspiracy theorist.

“All corporate-owned and publicly-traded media is our first and foremost immediate enemy.” Michael C. Ruppert

Redemption?

It’s 1996 and in comes Gary Webb. A very well respected Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who begins investigating the ties between leaders of the Nicaraguan Contra Rebel organizations and the CIA. Webb wrote a 3 part investigative series that got published in the San Jose Mercury News. This caused a public uproar, especially from people in poorer communities where the crack-cocaine epidemic was destroying families.

The publicity from Webb’s scathing piece of journalism against the CIA is what allowed Ruppert the chance to finally be heard on a larger scale, and Webb’s conclusions even launched a federal investigation into the issue. While many people believed him, Gary Webb ended up losing his publisher, getting smeared all over the mainstream news for exaggerating and was even called an outright liar. Alongside Ruppert, Webb was outspoken in saying there was massive media manipulation around the issue.

“The government side of the story is coming through the Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, The Washington Post. They use the giant corporate press rather than saying anything directly. If you work through friendly reporters on major newspapers, it comes off as The New York Times saying it and not a mouthpiece of the CIA.” – Gary Webb (source)

Tragic Ending

Gary Webb was found dead in his home in 2004 with two gunshot wounds to the head. His death was ruled a suicide but there is still some speculation considering the fact that it’s uncommon for a person to pull the trigger twice in a suicide but to be fair it has happened in the past. There was a suicide note and his wife has stated he was depressed for a while about no longer being able to get a job at any major newspaper.

An eerily similar fate was met by Michael Ruppert. He was found dead in his home in 2014 with one gunshot wound to the head. He also left a note and his death was ruled a suicide. Just like Webb there was mystery around Ruppert’s official story, some believe it was a hit for saying too much or that maybe he was onto another big story, some believe the suicide was staged and he went off the map to get a fresh start, and others take the story at face value and think that maybe he’d just had enough of fighting, of always looking over his shoulder. As a man that spent his life questioning the mainstream narrative, it seems fitting that many conspiracy theories have formed around his death.

The Takeaway

If you check out the video above you can hear from Michael Ruppert himself about some of his story and see him in action at the town hall meeting where he challenged the CIA. His question to the chief is a powerful one, asking if he comes across information of illegal activity but it’s classified, will he report it?

Are these organizations we give the power to enforce the law and/or to protect us above the law? Are there circumstances where illegal activity by some organizations is justified, say if the information is a threat to public safety? Why could none of the CIA’s internal investigations find any hard evidence of the claims against them? Who’s watching the watchers? One of the final sentences of Ruppert’s suicide note reads:

“I do this for the children, may it bring love and light into the world.” – Michael C. Ruppert (source)

That seems like a cause that we can all get behind. Working together to build a world worth leaving to future generations. Let’s leave it better than we found it, I know we’re capable of it. Whether you agree with Michael Ruppert’s beliefs or not we can learn from him because I feel that he was trying to do just that, leave the world a better place. Love and light!

A Quick Important Notice:

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In order to stay truly independent, we need your help. We are not going to put up paywalls on this website, as we want to get our info out far and wide. For as little as $3 a month, you can help keep CE alive!

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Consider This Before Indulging In Legal Cannabis In Canada

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    Cannabis is now legal in Canada for recreational and medicinal use.

  • Reflect On:

    Will the legalization of cannabis change our relationship and habits with cannabis? Should it?

For some Canadians, October 17th is a day they have been anticipating for a long time. For others, it may pass by without much notice. Yet, one thing is for sure. Eventually, virtually all Canadians will be impacted in one way or another by Canada’s decision to legalize cannabis. Parents. Children. Regular Users. Non-users. Teenagers. The Elderly. Those of all ages suffering from illnesses of all kinds.

And not only will this impact the everyday lives of people in Canada, most Canadian institutions will be going through a learning curve and devoting attention to this new phenomenon. The government. Law Enforcement Agencies. Growers and farms. Wholesalers and retailers. Advertisers and marketers. Who in Canada will be able to say they have not been touched by this one way or another, once the intoxicating and healing powers of cannabis become more accessible even than alcohol?

What Will Change

Some changes will happen immediately, some changes will evolve over time. Some people argue that Canada is not yet ready for all the implications of legalizing cannabis at this point, but the prevailing attitude is that things will sort themselves out in an orderly fashion over the next 1-3 years.

Law enforcement: The change in the criminal code means that limited possession of cannabis is no longer a crime, though people who are currently in jail for possession of cannabis are not being automatically let out of jail. Much of law enforcement rhetoric focuses on preventing youth from indulging in cannabis, in a fashion similar to the restrictions on alcohol. More likely, the majority of funds and manpower will be diverted to combating black market enterprises, given that the government now stands to gain $675 million per year in tax revenues from the sale of legal cannabis. Regulations for impaired driving as a result of cannabis consumption look to evolve over time as technologies for measuring impairment like alcohol ‘breathalizers’ improve.

Home Growing: Individuals will be permitted to grow up to four plants for their own use. While the sale of edibles (baked goods, drinks, etc) will not be allowed initially, individuals can make edibles at home for their own use.

Marketing and Retail: The way in which legal cannabis is promoted and sold to the public will likely go through a push-pull transition between advertising regulations and the way wholesalers and retailers will try to get around those regulations to sell their products. The same can probably be said for the business chain as a whole from growth to consumption.

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Usage in General: Usage in Canada is bound to increase, simply due to an increase in the availability for those who have not actively sought it out in the past, and the removal of the stigma of its illegality, as well as the social acceptance of the consumption of cannabis which is bound to grow over the next couple of years.

What Will Not Change

There are two things that will not change when cannabis is made legal in Canada on October 17th: cannabis and you.

Cannabis itself is not suddenly safer or better for you than it was before just because it has become legalized. The same decisions you were making on whether or not to indulge in the past still pretty much apply, so ubiquitous was its use despite being illegal. Will regulation make the quality of cannabis you receive better? Not necessarily. It may become more consistent, if less potent, if the quality controls in place are reliable. But remember, black market dealers and sellers had an intrinsic investment in the quality of their product if they were to hope to have regular customers.

By ‘you,’ I am referring to your deepest, truest sense of self, the person you are and who you want to be in the highest vision of yourself. This does not change with any change of regulation in the outer world, and certainly you have to be wary if this change of regulation arbitrarily changes the choices you make and impacts your habits, goals, and dreams.

What To Watch Out For

You may be one who will be inclined to be more open to the personal recreational use of cannabis once it becomes legal. With this comes the possibility of gradually developing a dependence, facilitated by a greater legal and social acceptability. It is important to take notice if recreational use begins to devolve into a catch-all means of escaping from the stress and discomfort of real-life problems, in ways that you get out of the habit of confronting problems and discomfort at their source.

The same can be said about the use of cannabis for medicinal purposes. No doubt, cannabis and CBD oil will be marketed as the healthy sedative for physical ailments and will also be touted as a curative agent for certain types of diseases. While this may be true in some particular cases, you have to be cautious about the claims made by sellers and marketers of the product, whose job is to sell rather than research and diagnose exactly what conditions will benefit from cannabis treatment, and even more particularly what strains of cannabis will work for given conditions.

There is a body of research about the curative effects of cannabis made from an Eastern holistic perspective, which treats each individual case not based on outward symptoms, as Western medicine does, but in terms the particular physiological, emotional and spiritual conditions an individual is in which seen to be at the root of the individual’s ailment. Hence, being wary of marketing practices does not mean avoid cannabis or CBD oil as medicinal treatment for a particular condition, but try to do so in consultation with an unbiased and trusted practitioner/researcher whose motives are healing your particular condition rather than making profits selling cannabis.

The Takeaway

The consumption of cannabis has the potential to be both consciousness-expanding and consciousness-numbing. It does have healing properties but you really have to do your due diligence and use it in a very disciplined way in order to truly gain healing benefits from it rather than getting into the habit of simply escaping from pains and difficulties that are part of a normal life. It is an exciting time for Canadians in that we are now more free to choose something that never should have been illegal to begin with. Let’s make sure this newfound freedom serves us in the best ways as individuals and as a community.

A Quick Important Notice:

The demand for Collective Evolution's content is bigger than ever, except ad agencies and social media keep cutting our revenues. This is making it hard for us to continue.

In order to stay truly independent, we need your help. We are not going to put up paywalls on this website, as we want to get our info out far and wide. For as little as $3 a month, you can help keep CE alive!

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