Autism Begins in the Womb
The study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, examined brains from six autistic children who had died. The autopsy results were compared with similar non-autistic children.
The autistic children were found to have 67% more prefrontal lobe neurons in their brains than the normal children.
This is important because the bulk of a child’s prefrontal lobe neuron count is produced in the womb. This means that the abnormality related to autism is produced when the baby is in the womb.
This links toxins in the womb to autism. Studies have shown that umbilical cord blood of mothers can be quite toxic. In 2007, scientists from the Environmental Working Group’s Human Toxome Project found 287 of the 413 toxic chemicals screened in the umbilical cord blood of ten mothers after giving birth. These included industrial compounds and pollutants such as alkylphenols, inorganic arsenic, organophosphates, phthalates, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), volatile and semi-volatile organic compounds, chlorinated dioxins and furans.
The EWC also confirmed that most of us are harboring dangerous toxins. In another study of nine adult participants, blood and urine contained 171 of the 214 toxic chemicals screened. These also included the chemicals mentioned above.
All of these are related to exposure of the various synthetic materials we use, the pollution released into the air by our automobiles and factories, and the toxins released into our waterways by manufacturers and households that use chemicals. All of these contribute to our toxin levels, and it is these toxins that are now implicated in many of the expanding diseases we suffer from – including autism.
Toxic exposure is also consistent with the growing emergence of autism, as autism’s almost-epidemic rise parallels our increased exposure to synthetic toxins in our environment. While autism did exist minimally before the industrial revolution, this can be explained by the use or handling of other pre-industrial-age toxins, such as mercury and lead.
Brain scans of autistic adults and children have also confirmed this overgrowth of the prefrontal cortex. This was illustrated in a recent 60 Minutes report that showed brain scans of the autistic Temple Grandin.
Because the prefrontal cortex is one of the key information-sorting and decision regions of the brain, this overgrowth in the prefrontal cortex explains to many scientists why autistic children often suffer from an overload of sensory information. Their prefrontal regions of the brain are over-developed.
Courchesne E, Mouton PR, Calhoun ME, Semendeferi K, Ahrens-Barbeau C, Hallet MJ, Barnes CC, Pierce K. Neuron number and size in prefrontal cortex of children with autism. JAMA. 2011 Nov 9;306(18):2001-10.