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Some causes of autism are avoidable! /inc/docinfo.shtml
Date posted:  June 09, 2002 05:36 PM

This is just a brief update. My focus since setting up this website has been to write a book on autism, expanding upon the ideas in the "working paper" I presented here. However, this site needed to be updated mainly because the phone company changed my email address and shortly thereafter stopped forwarding email from the old address. I didn't catch all three places with links to my email address on my first update, which I realized when I started getting letters in the mail. Now the Internet server provider for this site has changed, and updates appear to involve more than simple edits.

Meanwhile, there are some recent reports that would seem to underscore the importance of environmental causes of autism. The importance of these cannot be overemphasized. In my working paper of two years ago, I cited the reports by Christianson et al. (1994) and Williams & Hersh (1997) on autism associated with use of valproic acid (Depakote) during pregnancy. Now Williams et al. (2001) and Moore et al (2000) have reported more cases of autism associated not only with valproic acic, but other anticonvulsant medications as well:

Williams G, King J, Cunningham M, Stephan M, Kerr B, Hersh JH. (2001) Fetal valproate syndrome and autism: additional evidence of an association. Developmental Medicine and Child Neurology 43:202-206.

Moore SJ, Turnpenny P, Quinn A, Glover S, Lloyd DJ, Montgomery T, Dean JC (2000) A clinical study of 57 children with fetal anticonvulsant syndromes. Journal of Medical Genetics. 37:489-497.

Women who are pregnant should be super-vigilant not to consume any unnatural substances. It is easy to take for granted the safety of myriad products that are sold as health aids, for pain relief, or weight control. Maybe "light yogurt" is not healthier during pregnancy, nor is diet soda. In my "working paper" on this website I cited the papers by Nanson (1992) and others that link prenatal exposure to alcohol and other drugs of abuse to autism in some cases.

Autistic behaviors are seen in children with a variety of different genetic metabolic disorders. This does not mean that all cases of autism are genetic. Defective enzymes in metabolic disorders like phenylketonuria (PKU) generate toxic byproducts, which are likely to impair the same vulnerable areas of the brain affected by alcohol and other drugs.

Autism is the result of impaired function within the brain. This should be the focus of research rather than the current fruitless efforts to find bad genes. I hope to continue to add updates to this website, but meanwhile back to my book...

Eileen Nicole Simon