the spirits and molecules of autism

. this file started out as a political issue
-- 5.20/pol/energy/Autism related to Coal's mercury --
but mercury policy has improved
while autism rates have increased,
so, it's been reassigned as a health issue .
. however, it may also be a socioeconomic issue
as worsening underemployment
increases reliance on children's disability payments .
. nevertheless,
even if parents were encouraging the diagnosis
for collecting child disability payments,
there is still evidence of increased autism risk
from environmental pollutants
(pcb's, pesticides, estrogenics, mercury)
and a degraded food supply quality
(increased use of gmo's, pesticides,
and herbicides -- thanks to gmo's;
non-organic farming creates a lack of
selenium in food
which is needed to counteract mercury).
. another theory explaining increased autism
is what I call two-headed dominance syndrome
where one of the heads tends to submit
in order to let the other head take control .
. likewise, in sociology,
when a population starts to feel
a loss of economic opportunities
there may tend to be more silent tension,
and an increase in dependent personalities .

. at the same time, unique to our times
is a tendency to demand much more of students;
whereas, in the past,
the developmentally challenged may have been
understood to be simply a rowdy or lonely laborer .

6.22: web: autism is on the rise:

New data on autism incidence rates:
. the CDC report now estimates
that one in 88 American children have
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)
based on the ADDM* Network 2008 surveillance year.
*:(Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring)

The number of individuals diagnosed with ASD
has been increasing for decades
and rapidly rising over recent years .
In the new findings,
boys were 5 times more at risk
(1/54 boys vs 1/252 girls).
Comparing the 2008 results to data from 2006,
diagnosis increased more than 20 % (2006: 1/110).
Are rates of autism spectrum disorders increasing?
The earliest studies focused only on autism,
while those conducted since the 1990s
have usually broadened the diagnostic criteria
to include Asperger's disorder,
pervasive developmental disorder,
and other types of autism spectrum disorders.
. the 2007 National Survey of Children's Health
telephone survey collected information from
78,037 parents of children ages 3 to 17 .
. parents were asked whether they
had ever been told by a health care provider
that their child had autism, Asperger's disorder,
pervasive developmental disorder,
or another autism spectrum disorder.
. 913 parents said their child was currently diagnosed;
— roughly one in every 91.
and another 453 said their child
once had such a diagnosis but no longer did.
. no longer had the condition?
was that from adaptation or misdiagnoses ?
. nearly half of the parents
described the symptoms as mild.
34% said moderate;
only 17% described them as severe.
. in response to perceived over-diagnosis,
the DSM-5 (due in 2013) has made changes;
so, more marked symptoms may be required
to meet criteria for a diagnosis.

7.9: Dr. Dawson:
The proposed changes in the DSM
will not “solve the autism epidemic.”
In fact, after accounting for the
broadening of the diagnostic criteria,
approximately 50% of the increase
remains unexplained.
Autism Speaks is committed to understanding
why there has been a dramatic increase,
focusing on possible environmental risk factors
that could be contributing.
the psychology of increasing sickness:
. parents are getting paid for behaviors
as long as the children require medications .
"( children from low-income families
are 4 times as likely as privately insured children
to receive antipsychotic medicines ).

. this, then, is what the skeptics are seeing
when “autism” increased from 1 in 500 children
to 1 in 90 between 1993 and 2004;
-- but guess what mercury was doing
during this same time?
that depends on who you ask:
# usa's fossil.energy.gov:
. mercury deposition was highest in the 1950s,
with levels about 10 times greater than those before 1900.
mercury levels reached a peak around 1960.
In 1995, an estimated 5,500 tons of mercury
was emitted globally from both natural and human sources.
In 1993, U.S. yearly emissions totaled about 242 tons.
# European Geosciences Union:
(Mercury emission and speciation of
coal-fired power plants in China.pdf)

. As the largest coal producer and consumer in the world,
China releases amounts of Hg
that have been increasing rapidly in recent years (...2009)
and are getting more and more attention .
Wu et al. (2006) estimated mercury emissions
from coal-fired power plants in China
have been growing 5.9% annually 1995–2003,
Coal combustion is believed to be the
main source of mercury emissions to the atmosphere,
accounting for 60%, or even more,
of the total mercury emissions .
# nrdc.org:
Overall, mercury emissions have gone down
by 65% in the US over the past two decades.
Power plants are the largest source,
emitting around 33 tons of mercury in the US annually,
and contributing to almost half of all mercury emissions.
. Approximately 10-20 million miners around the world,
especially in Asia, Africa and South America,
use mercury to bind with gold contained inside ore,
and then burn off the mercury,
leaving just the gold behind.
[the price of gold is very high recently .]
. China's PVC industry is releasing
substantial quantities of mercury
throughout the catalyst life cycle.
but mercury is the tip of the iceburg:
7.9: web: Exploring the environmental contribution.
Curr Opin Pediatr. 2010 Apr;22(2):219-25.
Genetic factors --mutations, deletions,
and copy number variants--
are clearly implicated in causation of autism.
they account for only a small fraction of cases,
and do not easily explain
key clinical and epidemiological features.
This suggests that early environmental exposures
also contribute.
Indirect evidence for an environmental contribution to autism
comes from studies demonstrating the
sensitivity of the developing brain
to external exposures such as
lead, ethyl alcohol and methyl mercury.
But the most powerful proof-of-concept evidence
derives from studies specifically linking autism
to exposures in early pregnancy
- thalidomide, misoprostol, and valproic acid;
maternal rubella infection;
and the organophosphate insecticide, chlorpyrifos.
There is no credible evidence that
vaccines cause autism.
[. he describes how a japanese epi'study
shows that whether or not vaccines cause damage,
something else was causing much more damage
even as mercury vaccines were
removed from the market .]
Expanded research is needed into
environmental causation of autism.
Children today are surrounded by
thousands of synthetic chemicals.
Two hundred of them are neurotoxic in adult humans,
and 1000 more in laboratory models.
Yet fewer than 20% of high-volume chemicals
have been tested for neurodevelopmental toxicity.
. we need a targeted discovery strategy
focused on suspect chemicals,
which combines expanded toxicological screening,
neurobiological research
and prospective epidemiological studies.