Autism: Reversing an Epidemic
How Eliminating the Body’s Toxins Can Protect against Autism
In the past 20 years, diagnoses of autism in American children have increased by a staggering 1,500 percent. Dr. John Foley, DC, who specializes in holistic pediatrics, particularly autism and other neurodevelopmental disorders, helps children—as well as parents-to-be—reduce the toxic overload that he believes is at the root of this disease.
You say that autism is a disease of toxic burden, rather than a disease of the brain. What do you mean?
Autism is a systemic disorder that begins outside the brain. A picture is now becoming clear as to the underlying causes, which involve toxic overload coupled with overwhelmed elimination systems. The kidneys, liver and digestive system are impaired first, causing the body to retain more inflammatory wastes and toxins than it can effectively eliminate. Children with autism tend to suffer from severe gastrointestinal disorders, food allergies and immune problems. Neurological and behavioral problems develop when the blood-brain barrier is breached: toxins easily pass through and become trapped inside the brain tissue and spinal cord. This is the perfect storm for chronic inflammation of the brain, leading to neurodevelopmental disorders such as autism.
How are these disorders triggered during pregnancy and infancy?
During pregnancy and the first two years of life, the brain is extremely vulnerable and should be protected as much as possible. Medication and vaccines during and after pregnancy can be very toxic to a young child’s rapidly developing nervous system. The blood-brain barrier takes a minimum of seven months to establish its primary protective shielding. A major exposure in the US is the heavy vaccine schedule; infants younger than one are injected with 26 doses, the most in the world.
Additional toxic stressors on the mother and the developing fetus can come from induced labor, epidurals, multiple ultrasounds, in-utero inflammation, environmental toxins, gut microbe imbalances, antibiotics and other medicines, infections, and electromagnetic radiation exposure, among other things.
Do our wireless devices make it harder for our bodies to detox from environmental toxins?
Yes. Electromagnetic radiation (EMR) from cell phones, cell towers, electronics, electrical outlets, computers, lighting and Wi-Fi devices significantly interferes with healthy cell function—that is, our cells can’t properly respond to signals from the brain, the nervous system and the immune system. Studies also show that EMR negatively affects the cell membranes, making them more permeable. Just as the intestines can become permeable and lead to “leaky gut syndrome,” the blood-brain barrier is prone to the same problem. A “leaky brain” can accelerate the early onset of autism by trapping heavy metals inside nerve cells while hindering the clearance of toxins.
One study found that the bedrooms of mothers of autistic children contained high levels of radiation while the mothers were pregnant. Today it’s not unusual for people to lie in bed with their laptops or tablets, accessing the Internet while watching TV. Children are also extremely sensitive to the effects of cellphone radiation, which disrupts brainwaves, neurological function and brain chemistry. The brain is not fully developed until around age twenty-five.
Autism rates have increased along with the proliferation of cellphones and wireless devices. Radiation and the consequent increase in toxins have been shown to alter DNA structure, creating genetic mutations that are passed down to future generations, leading to the epidemic of neurodevelopmental problems we are seeing today.
What do you recommend prospective parents do before conception to ensure the best health for their child?
I recommend a minimum of six months, and ideally a full year, of slow, gentle and effective detoxification, combined with plenty of nutrient-dense, organic whole food for both parents-to-be.
Well before you conceive, learn how to minimize your exposure to toxic metals, endocrine disruptors, pesticides and food contaminants, including genetically modified foods. Eliminate sugar, soy, pasteurized dairy, refined grains and vegetable oils from the diet as much as possible; eat a plant-based paleo diet with lots of healthy fats. Consume small amounts of fermented foods daily. Detoxify your environment by filtering water and air and purging personal-care products and household cleaners. Engage in some form of exercise and meditation, get plenty of sunshine, and take whole-food vitamin complexes that are biocompatible to your individual needs.
Research birth plans, and visit NVIC.org to learn about vaccines, including the Tdap and flu shot during pregnancy. Keep your cellphone away from your body as much as possible, and shield the bedroom from electromagnetic radiation. Stay positive, and trust your intuition. This short list is a good start that can reduce the probability of chronic illness, disease and disability in your children.
Where do you see the field of autism treatment heading?
For the first time in history, children are less healthy than the generation before them. Autism is a catastrophic epidemic, with an increase of 1,500 percent over the last two decades. About 20 years ago, 1 in 10,000 children was on the autistic spectrum; now we’re at 1 in 50 (and 1 in 31 boys). Roughly 80 percent of these individuals are still under the age of 22. Each generation has more toxicity in their bodies than the previous one, and now we’re at a tipping point, where today’s children are born very toxic, regardless of outward symptoms. The firstborn typically receives one-third of the mother’s toxicity.
Autism cannot be resolved by simply managing symptoms. When we begin to realize that disease begins with a disturbance in the human energy field, undetectable through blood tests, we can understand why so many traditional and alternative interventions are insufficient. The key is to specifically target, and gently eliminate, thousands of microscopic toxins at the cellular level, and to determine the precise nutritional needs for each organ and gland. Targeted, personalized cleansing and dietary programs ensure elimination of all toxic stress over time. The bio-energetic methods we use are safe, noninvasive and nontoxic to the body. We’ve seen great results from them.
Fortunately, recovery from autism is possible if all hidden root causes are targeted and treated over time. The human body is wonderfully complex and knows exactly how to heal itself with the right support and guidance.
Dr. John Foley, DC, specializes in holistic pediatrics and treats children and teens with autism, ADHD, allergies, asthma, developmental delays and autoimmune conditions. Dr. Foley is the developer of a bioenergetic, functional medicine approach known as the BodyCures Healing System. BodyCures offers convenient distance treatment programs. For more information, call 914-455-0099 or visit BodyCures.com.
Dr. John Foley’s article appears in the April 2014 issue of Natural Awakenings Magazine (Westchester, Putnam and Dutchess, NY edition)