Skip to content

Canary Kids Film Project

2013 February 13
by Maria Rickert Hong

Please help support the Canary Kids Film Project. Watch the Trailer! Tell your friends! Spread the Word! Help Kids Recover!!

Congressional Hearing on Autism: Submission for the Public Record

2012 December 5
by Maria Rickert Hong
Did you submit a comment/letter for the public record re: the Congressional Hearing on Autism?  I did.  Here it is:
December 5, 2012
To:  Congressional Oversight and Government Reform Committee
Re:  Please enter my letter as a comment submission, for the public record, for the Congressional Hearing held on 11-29-2012, “1 in 88 Children: A Look into the Federal Response to Rising Rates of Autism”
My name is Beth Lambert.  I am the author of A Compromised Generation: The Epidemic of Chronic Illness in America’s Children, and the Founder and Director of Epidemic Answers, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to raising awareness to the epidemics of autism, ADHD, allergies, asthma, and other conditions skyrocketing in children.  We also aim to help parents find healing solutions for affected children.
I am writing today to put into the public record the fact that the autism epidemic is only the tip of the proverbial iceberg in terms of the number of children affected by chronic illness in this country.  Autism is by far the most severe and devastating form of chronic illness affecting our children, but the vast majority of American children are showing signs of being affected by the very same environmental factors that make children develop autism.
While 1 in 88 children are affected with autism (at least), we also know that more than half of children in this country are diagnosed with a chronic illness (Academic Pediatrics, 2011).  There are far more children affected with milder versions of environmentally-derived illness:  “almost autism,” ADHD/ADD, allergies, sensory disorders, asthma, obesity, diabetes, Crohn’s disease, celiac, colitis, depression, anxiety disorders, periodic fever syndrome, eczema, developmental delays, mitochondrial dysfunction, learning disabilities, PANDAS/PITANDS, and the list goes on.  What is causing autism is also what is causing asthma, allergies and other conditions in different children.  All of our children are affected and it is time that we raise the alarm bells, as we will soon find it very difficult to locate a truly “healthy” child in this country.
In my book, A Compromised Generation, I detail (with >400 medical and scientific references) the very environmental factors contributing to this epidemic.
Our children’s illnesses are highly individualized symptomatic manifestations of a wider epidemic of gut dysbiosis, immune dysregulation, and systemic toxicity.  Most children with a “diagnosis” have these three underlying physiological/biological imbalances.  These physiological/biological imbalances have been caused over the last century (but increasingly so over the last few decades) by the following:
1) Overuse of pharmaceutical medications by several generations –disrupting gut flora (especially antibiotics, proton pump inhibitors, hormone and steroid medications, and others).  Gut flora disruptions weaken our immune systems, make us more prone to vaccine injury and make us more vulnerable to environmental toxins.
2) Immunizations and their ability to dysregulate the immune system, cause autoimmunity and mitochondrial dysfunction
3) Ever increasing exposure to environmental toxicities
4) The Standard American Diet and it’s impact on gut flora and system toxicity
5) Lifestyle factors (such as how we do not get enough Vitamin D, important for regulating the immune system; we do not get enough exercise; and how we have most of our babies in hospitals where mothers and babies are routinely giving antibiotics—again disrupting gut flora and dysregulating the immune system).
We need to start understanding that the autism epidemic is only one piece of a massive health crisis in this country.  Children with autism are our canaries in the coal mine.  We must heed their silence now!  I submit the following cartoon for your consideration:
Sincerely,
Beth Lambert
Executive Director, Epidemic Answers
Author, A Compromised Generation

Did you submit a comment/letter for the public record re: the Congressional Hearing on Autism?  I did.  Here it is December 5, 2012
To:  Congressional Oversight and Government Reform Committee
Re:  Please enter my letter as a comment submission, for the public record, for the Congressional Hearing held on 11-29-2012, “1 in 88 Children: A Look into the Federal Response to Rising Rates of Autism”
My name is Beth Lambert.  I am the author of A Compromised Generation: The Epidemic of Chronic Illness in America’s Children, and the Founder and Director of Epidemic Answers, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to raising awareness to the epidemics of autism, ADHD, allergies, asthma, and other conditions skyrocketing in children.  We also aim to help parents find healing solutions for affected children.
I am writing today to put into the public record the fact that the autism epidemic is only the tip of the proverbial iceberg in terms of the number of children affected by chronic illness in this country.  Autism is by far the most severe and devastating form of chronic illness affecting our children, but the vast majority of American children are showing signs of being affected by the very same environmental factors that make children develop autism.
While 1 in 88 children are affected with autism (at least), we also know that more than half of children in this country are diagnosed with a chronic illness (Academic Pediatrics, 2011).  There are far more children affected with milder versions of environmentally-derived illness:  “almost autism,” ADHD/ADD, allergies, sensory disorders, asthma, obesity, diabetes, Crohn’s disease, celiac, colitis, depression, anxiety disorders, periodic fever syndrome, eczema, developmental delays, mitochondrial dysfunction, learning disabilities, PANDAS/PITANDS, and the list goes on.  What is causing autism is also what is causing asthma, allergies and other conditions in different children.  All of our children are affected and it is time that we raise the alarm bells, as we will soon find it very difficult to locate a truly “healthy” child in this country.
In my book, A Compromised Generation, I detail (with >400 medical and scientific references) the very environmental factors contributing to this epidemic.  Our children’s illnesses are highly individualized symptomatic manifestations of a wider epidemic of gut dysbiosis, immune dysregulation, and systemic toxicity.  Most children with a “diagnosis” have these three underlying physiological/biological imbalances.  These physiological/biological imbalances have been caused over the last century (but increasingly so over the last few decades) by the following:1) Overuse of pharmaceutical medications by several generations –disrupting gut flora (especially antibiotics, proton pump inhibitors, hormone and steroid medications, and others).  Gut flora disruptions weaken our immune systems, make us more prone to vaccine injury and make us more vulnerable to environmental toxins.2) Immunizations and their ability to dysregulate the immune system, cause autoimmunity and mitochondrial dysfunction3) Ever increasing exposure to environmental toxicities4) The Standard American Diet and it’s impact on gut flora and system toxicity5) Lifestyle factors (such as how we do not get enough Vitamin D, important for regulating the immune system; we do not get enough exercise; and how we have most of our babies in hospitals where mothers and babies are routinely giving antibiotics—again disrupting gut flora and dysregulating the immune system).We need to start understanding that the autism epidemic is only one piece of a massive health crisis in this country.  Children with autism are our canaries in the coal mine.  We must heed their silence now!  I submit the following cartoon for your consideration:

Sincerely,
Beth LambertExecutive Director, Epidemic AnswersAuthor, A Compromised Generation

Support the Answers Recovery Project!

2012 October 25
by Maria Rickert Hong

Epidemic Answers is sponsoring a major documentary film project and we need your help!

Please see the Indiegogo Campaign page for more information!

http://igg.me/p/236401?a=1358850

Thanks for your support!

Beth

What if we could find ANSWERS (and heal our children) together?

2012 September 25
by Maria Rickert Hong

By Beth Lambert

(I originally wrote this article as an appeal to those who follow the Thinking Moms Revolution . . . but now post it as an appeal to all Thinking People who care about children and our future.)

I have an idea about how we can heal our children. It’s a great idea. No, it’s a fantastic idea. But it may take a little explaining and a little leap of faith. Please read to this end . . . this is really good.

If you are a Thinking Mom (or Dad) you have probably spent many hours and many dollars looking for answers for your children. Answers with regard to why and how your child’s health became compromised in the first place. Answers with regard to what is out of balance in them biologically, physiologically, microbially, energetically, spiritually. Answers with regard to how we, as a society, can prevent more children from being harmed. Most importantly, you want answers that help us heal those that have already been harmed (our babies).

I am a mother of three children . . . two of whom were significantly affected by this ridiculous epidemic of chronic illness in American children. The third was born after I learned how to live clean and green and without unnecessary medical interventions. He fared much better. You are probably familiar with the litany of symptoms that were my clues that their bodies were not healthy. Although I never had any children diagnosed on the autism spectrum, between the two of my oldest children I had the privilege to witness the following symptoms/issues: colic, thrush, sensory processing disorder, OCD, inflammatory bowel disease, Crohn’s disease, allergies, eczema, toe-walking, chronic infections of all varieties, undigested stool, chronic diarrhea, chronic constipation, multi-hour temper tantrums, red rage, eye aversion, tactile defensiveness, sensory-seeking behavior, bleeding diaper rash, hives and allergic welts, skin rashes, exaggerated emotional responses, and the list goes on and on . . . Do any of these symptoms sound familiar? What is little known (by those who are not yet Thinking Moms) is that many of the symptoms demonstrated by children with autism are also demonstrated by “neurotypical” kids, but the symptoms are usually fewer in number, or less severe. How many “normal” kids do you know that live everyday with chronic constipation? How many “normal” kids that you know experience red rage, weepiness, or depression when they eat wheat, but their parents don’t know that something their child is eating is making them bonkers? You know what I’m talking about.

My children, despite this horrific list of symptoms, were considered “normal” by all conventional medical doctors and specialists with whom we consulted. Normal? You’ve got to be kidding me. I’m a Thinking Mom. Please, don’t insult me. And so began my search for answers. Answers to explain why my children were sick and what we needed to do to heal them.

During my search we worked with:

  • A naturopath
  • A homotoxicologist
  • An integrative physician
  • A holistic nurse practitioner
  • An integrative dietitian
  • Two medical intuitives who utilize vibrational medicine
  • A genius chiropractor who also utilizes vibrational medicine
  • A traditional chiropractor
  • Allergy elimination practitioners (NAET, BioSet)

We made many lifestyle changes for our entire family including:

  • Experimenting with healing diets such as GAPS, BED, SCD, Paleolithic, Alkalinizing, Weston Price/Nourishing Traditions, elimination diets (removing over 20 foods from our daily diet)
  • Eliminating all toxic personal care products and toxic cleaning products from the home, and all new-fangled, off-gassing, chemical-laden products in general
  • Eating only whole, organic foods and meats that were pastured and as clean as we could get
  • Getting rid of our Wi-Fi and wireless phones. We only used phones with cords and computers that accessed the internet through an ethernet cable.
  • Eating and drinking tons of raw fermented foods and drinks
  • Eliminating sunblock, and making an effort to get natural vitamin D from the sun when possible
  • Stopping all unnecessary medical interventions, including antibiotics, pain relievers and other harmful pharmaceuticals

And the list goes on and on . . .

For about a year and a half, healing our children was our full time job. During that time, I also researched and wrote a book, A Compromised Generation, that explains (at least to me) why so many children today are sick, why there is so much autism, ADHD, food allergies, asthma and many other conditions. I also started a non-profit organization called Epidemic Answers so that I could band together with like-minded individuals who all wanted to find answers for their children. It took us about a year and a half to pull our kids back from the brink, but today, all three of my children are healthy, happy, thriving kids and they are virtually symptom-free. It was a long slog, but totally worth it.

During this journey I began to make “biomedical” friends. Friends who were recovering their children from autism, or “almost autism” like mine. You would be shocked to know how many “almost autisms” there are out there. The more autism moms and dads you meet, the more you learn about health and wellness and healing modalities, and what works and what doesn’t work, and what caused the autism (or asthma, or allergies, or ADHD, or mitochondrial dysfunction) in the first place. The deeper you go into a healing journey, the more extraordinary healers and healthcare practitioners you meet and the greater your sense of hope becomes. It was in these conversations and relationships that I began to meet the recovered and I began to understand hope. It was how I got to the ultimate joy and bliss that I experience today. I put my intention on healing my children and they healed.

So just about everyday, I talk to another parent of an affected child. Some children have autism, some have asthma, and some have the amalgamation of symptoms that elude a diagnosis. And these parents ask me what I did to get my children healthy again. And I tell them about my journey, and I lose them, because most people don’t have the resources (financial, emotional or other) to be able to do all the things that we did. Plus, how do you know which healing modality is right for your child? How do you know if it is going to work? There was way too much trial and error. Way too much experimentation. Healing, the way we did it, is really hard. But what if it didn’t have to be?

Healing our children today is extremely difficult for a variety of reasons:
1) We, as families, have limited resources (time and money) to devote to the healing process. We have to hold down jobs and keep marriages together and take care of other children and ourselves. Recovering a child from chronic illness can be an exhausting, frustrating, full time job. And realistically, no one can afford it.
2) The existing medical system does not support the healing of our children. Most of the treatments that help children heal are not covered by insurance (that is, if you even have insurance). In fact, the existing medical system, as you know, is a big part of what is making our children sick in the first place. So we need to go outside of the box to alternative or at least integrative practitioners, those who are on top of the medical literature and are willing to work in a partnership with you, the parent. These practitioners are a rare species.
3) The safe alternative healing modalities that work are often considered too “woo woo” or not yet validated by medical science for us to feel comfortable trying them. We can be scared to try something partly because of expense, and partly because we don’t believe it is going to work. And sometimes it doesn’t work. Why would we spend money on something for which there is no rational reason to believe that it might work? Two of my friends who recovered their children from serious chronic illnesses (ASD, PDD, chronic lyme) both reached turning points using some serious “woo woo” healing modalities. Could there be something to these approaches?
4) We don’t know what is going to work for our children. Each of them has unique and complex problems that usually come in layers. I love the onion analogy. You peel (and heal) one layer at a time, knowing that one day you will get to the center. We do our best to figure out what is going to work, but we’re only human. It would be helpful if we at least knew what type of practitioner to begin with, but even that is a difficult and confusing decision to make.

The Big Idea

What does all this have to do with my big idea? Well, many of us struggle to heal our children because we come across all kinds of barriers: financial barriers, emotional barriers, psychological barriers, and lack of access to the right practitioners, healers, and safe healing environments. But what if you didn’t have those barriers, and what if you were given access to all that you needed to heal and recover your child? Wouldn’t that be great? And even if you didn’t have that access, what if you could learn about healing successes and failures from others who did?

So here it is:

What if we could take a bunch of kids. Let’s say 10 kids. Four with ASD, 3 with ADHD, 2 with asthma and 1 with chronic Lyme or some other kind of chronic condition. What if we took these kids’ families and gave them everything they needed to heal for FREE? A naturopath, a homeopath, an integrative physician, an integrative dietician, a shamanic healer, a reiki practitioner, audio integration therapy, a BioSet practitioner, and all the nourishing, organic whole foods that they would need to sustain themselves, cooking lessons, non-toxic personal care products, a bau biologist, green cleaning products, vitamins, supplements and of course a holistic healthcare practitioner and a parent mentor to teach them, guide them and help them make the right choices along their healing journey. What if we took the advice and guidance of all the moms and dads who have recovered their kids and poured that knowledge into these 10 children. What if?

What if we then got an award-winning documentary filmmaker (and Thinking Mom) to document the journeys of these children in a feature-length film? What if the film served as an exposé of the environmental factors that are making our children sick but also showed us how to bring them back, to heal them? What if we used these children as a “living lab” where we could (safely) learn about the healing modalities that are most beneficial to our sick and dysfunctional children? Would you go see this film? If your child had asthma or ADHD, wouldn’t you want to see how these children recovered? If your child had autism?

So here is my big idea:

Let’s push the envelope, find the answers and heal our children TOGETHER.

I present to you: The ANSWERS RECOVERY PROJECT, sponsored by Epidemic Answers, a 501c3 non-profit. And it’s not just an idea, it’s real. We are in the process of raising money to make this idea materialize. We estimate that it will cost about $500,000 to support all 10 children. Many of the practitioners who have signed up for this project are offering their services pro-bono. But we still need to pay for many other healing products and services. Together, with very little effort from each individual donor, we could heal 10 beautiful children while simultaneously finding answers for our own children and educating the rest of the world so that no more children need suffer.

So how do we do it?

Easy.

  • If all of the nearly 3,600 people who follow Thinking Moms on Facebook donated $20 (we need to be the big spenders because we are thought leaders!) =$72,000
  • And all of the nearly 15,000 people who follow TACA on Facebook donated just $10 = $225,000
  • And all of the 5,500 people who follow the Canary Party, and the 2,700 people who follow Epidemic Answers, and the 2,500 people who follow Deirdre Imus, and the 35,000 people who follow Weston Price, and the nearly 13,000 people who follow Generation Rescue all donated just $5 =$290,000

We’d have the Recovery Project fully funded in the blink of an eye. Heck, if we got the 270,000 people who follow Dr. Mercola on Facebook to donate just $2 each, we’d be done! Paid for! How awesome would that be?

This idea is a win-win-win.

Let’s Heal Our Children, Together.

Please Donate Here:

http://www.epidemicanswers.org/get-help/get-involved/donate/

And then forward this on to everyone you know.

p.s. Because Epidemic Answers is a 501c3 non-profit organization, your contribution is tax deductible. More awesomeness!

To learn more about the film, please click here.
http://www.epidemicanswers.org/canary-kids/
Questions? Email me, Beth Lambert at [email protected]

And to learn more about our awesome director and producer, Mary Mazzio, please see her latest film here:

Apple Pushers

We can do this!

Beth Lambert is the author of A Compromised Generation: The Epidemic of Chronic Illness in America’s Children, and a former healthcare consultant and teacher. She is the Executive Director of Epidemic Answers, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization dedicated to educating the public about the epidemic of chronic illness affecting our youth, and helping parents and caregivers find healing solutions for their children. To learn more see www.epidemicanswers.org and www.acompromisedgeneration.com.

The Journey to Conscious Creation

2011 June 16
by Maria Rickert Hong

[Read this excellent article by my friend, Nina Antolino, about how she conceived her beautiful son, despite being told it was impossible!  An inspirational story about healing, wellness and the power of intention]

The Journey to Conscious Creation

By Nina Antolino

In life, millions of moments sadly pass unnoticed.   We are not awake to our experiences while they are happening.  We often walk our path habitually, building deeper grooves in our minds and reinforcing our deeply entrenched, self-limiting beliefs about who we are and what is possible.  We are pulled outside ourselves for the answers we seek, rather than trusting our inner guidance.  We vacillate between trying desperately to control everything in our life on the one hand, and completely abdicating to some outside authority on the other.  We pay attention only to that which supports our thinking and ignore any evidence that stands in contrast.

But every so often there are moments that cannot be ignored.  Moments that have the power to wake you up, propel you in a new direction, help you to see your life and your Self in a new light.  Moments that challenge what you believe to be true and change you forever:  Empowering moments. Transformational moments.    Sometimes they are found in a moment of profound kindness or beauty.  Often, they are hidden within our most challenging experiences.   It is in these moments that we have the potential to discover the deeper messages and lessons of our life.

At the age of 40, I was told by a Reproductive Endocrinologist that it would not be possible for me to conceive, even with assistance.   It was one of THE most defining moments of my life.   For months while trying to get pregnant, all of my attention was focused on what was wrong with my body, what my body wasn’t doing, why now that I was ready to get pregnant, my body wouldn’t cooperate.  My mind was creating so much stress, how could my body cooperate?  And my life had gotten so out of balance.  All I could focus on was my inability to achieve this goal.  I had gotten so caught up in worrying and wanting desperately for something to happen, that I had forgotten everything I had already learned about the mind/body connection.    As a yoga instructor and empowerment life coach, I knew about the inherent connection between body, mind, heart and spirit. But now I was being beckoned to trust in it like never before, to really live it, not just to guide others to it.   This time, it is I who really had to learn to listen and trust, perhaps for the very first time, the wisdom within.  It was a reminder for me: the body, mind and spirit are inseparable and greatly influence each other.   To create wellness get back to what you know, find balance and trust your body’s wisdom.

I had sought out two other professional opinions but each reinforced the assertion that with endometriosis, my age, and an FSH of 27, pregnancy would not be possible.  In that defining moment, I woke up!  I could choose to turn my future over to that limiting belief and the scientific data and authority that supported it, or I could implement everything I had learned in my life and had been teaching my clients about the power of beliefs and our creative potential.  Many of our thoughts and beliefs are self-limiting and self-defeating and are reflected in our lives.  We live in a culture that teaches women to doubt their body’s wisdom and innate creative abilities (especially if you are over 40!).  But interestingly in places like Africa, women have children into their fifties, naturally.  (They have never been told that their bodies are too old to conceive).  I decided right then:  “I am not going to believe that it’s not possible for me.  It’s just data!”  This experience had a message reminding me:   Believe in possibilities rather than just what science tells you.  Let go of trying to control the outcome, trust your connection to something greater and recognize your creative ability to influence and shape your life

And so I began again to practice yoga, meditate, to pray, to set an intention and notice the flashes of intuition that would arise.  Within a few weeks through a series of synchronous events, I was led to an acupuncturist who specialized in fertility. I was reminded of power of breathing, releasing emotional stress, nurturing yourself, staying present  and knowing we attract into our life what most focus on with our minds.

She helped me to understand that her clients came to her not only as a last resort or an alternative to conventional methods, but also as a way to support one’s body while going through fertility treatments.  It was about creating balance.   She helped me understand the role that nutrition played and put me on a fertility diet.  She used herbs and acupuncture to address my specific imbalances.

It was then that I recognized the importance of choosing someone I trusted for such an important journey.   Equally important was that I would be a full partner in this process and no longer abdicate responsibility to anyone else for my health and well being.   Although I had been in the holistic field for a decade, this modality was new to me.   The more I learned, the more I became an advocate for myself.  I was on a new, more empowered path.  It reinforced for me:  Educate yourself.  Knowledge is empowering.  Surround yourself with people that help you feel safe but be your own best advocate.

Within a few months, between changes in diet and the acupuncture, yoga and meditation, visualizations and guided imagery, emotional support and finding support and balance in my life, I was really feeling a difference in my energy level and my ability to really tune into my body’s signals.  One night, I walked into our bedroom and said to my husband, “I think I’m pregnant”.  I hadn’t even missed my cycle but I just felt it in my body, I just “knew”.   The next day, my instincts were confirmed.  The call came in:  “Nina, congratulations, you are pregnant!”

I would remain a patient of the RE through my first trimester.   On the day I left the practice, I asked the RE what he thought about my ‘miracle’ since he had told me many months ago it wasn’t possible.  He just congratulated me for being tenacious and not giving up.  And before I left his office, I simply turned to him and said “I really think it is vital that no woman ever hears ‘It’s not possible’ just because science says so.”  I spoke those words with my whole heart, mind and soul.  It was in that transformational moment that I knew I wanted to share that message with other women:  to help them to know that no matter or anyone tells them, anything is possible!  There is always something greater working on their behalf and they have the power to consciously create and shape their experience by changing their beliefs, trusting their inner wisdom and by tapping into the union of their body, mind and spirit!

On July 31, 2008, a healthy 8 lb-13oz boy, Noah Bennett (which means Peaceful, Little Blessed One) was born!  Had I believed that it wasn’t possible, my story may have had a very different ending!

Nina Antolino, BE, MBA, RYT, is the Founder and Executive Director of Limitless Potential, a consulting and coaching practice designed to empower clients to achieve their full creative potential.  She is a Certified Empowerment Life Coach and has been coaching clients locally and tele-coaching nationally since 2005.  She is a Nationally Certified Yoga Instructor since 2000  and a Strategic  Learning Consultant.   Nina’s passion and personal experience has inspired her to design Women’s Empowerment and Wellness  programs to help educate, empower and encourage women to be conscious creators of their life.  Through a mind-body-spirit approach and empowerment workshops and empowerment groups, she coaches women to find balance, trust their inner guidance, release fears and limiting beliefs, and empower them to achieve their limitless potential.  Whether contemplating/struggling with conception or wanting to create a more inspiring vision for all areas of their life, the empowerment coaching process is a powerful tool for self-transformation.

For more information go to www.limitless-potential.com or email [email protected]

April is Autism Awareness Month

2011 April 29
by Maria Rickert Hong

Just a friendly reminder that April is (or WAS, as April is almost over!) Autism Awareness Month

Be sure to read the Epidemic Answers April Newsletter which is devoted solely to Autism–This issue has some great articles contributed by Nancy O’Hara, MD, Gail Szakacs, MD, Vicki Kobliner MS RD C-N and Lorna Aliperti ARNP–all outstanding healthcare professionals dedicated to spreading the word about the epidemic of autism and helping children recover from this and other chronic conditions.  Click the following link to read the newsletter:  http://p0.vresp.com/5Iq2Ij

The Foundation of a Healing Approach to Autism

2011 April 13
by Maria Rickert Hong
Nutrition Fundamentals-The Foundation of a Healing Approach to Autism
By Victoria Kobliner, MS RD CD-N
Mention the words “nutrition” and “autism” and many people quickly but exclusively think of gluten and casein free diets (GFCF).  While this diet has certainly helped to improve the symptoms of autism for many children, there is far more about nutrition and its relationship to autism that every parent should know before embarking on the complex and often expensive journey into the world of biomedical therapies.  Good nutrition is the cornerstone of growth and development for all children, healthy or ill.  When nutritional status is compromised it will directly affect a child’s progress, and for a child with a chronic illness like autism, the lack of critical nutrients can have far reaching effects.
Children with autism often exhibit a frustrating mix of picky eating behaviors and limited diets, bowel irregularities, food allergies or sensitivities and physical and behavioral signs of nutrient deficiencies.  A vicious cycle is created which goes something like this:
• The poorly functioning digestive tract (whether from food allergies, lack of healthy bacteria or enzymes etc) causes inflammation and/or discomfort which makes a child want to eat less
• The inflammation reduces the ability to break down and absorb nutrients from food
• The limited intake reduces the amount of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients needed not only to help heal the inflammation, but to support brain function as well.
• As a result, inflammation is not addressed, the digestive tract remains compromised and the gulf between nutrition needs and nutrient intake grows ever wider.
To further complicate matters, children with autism frequently suffer from inefficiencies in many other biochemical processes that are nutrition dependent.  As the nutrition gap grows, these pathways are further compromised.  Some examples include the following:
• The immune system is commonly skewed in children on the spectrum.  A normal immune system requires essential fatty acids, zinc, Vitamin C and protein, as well as many other nutrients for normal function.
• Research shows that ASD kids often have a reduced ability to detoxify from the everyday chemicals and toxins we are naturally exposed to.  To perform normal detoxification reactions, the body requires a compound called glutathione, which is made from pieces of protein called amino acids.  In addition, natural detoxification requires B vitamins, and minerals such as selenium.
• Because children on the spectrum are chronically ill, their small bodies are under tremendous stress, and produce lots of the free radicals that are damaging to cells. Antioxidants such as Vitamin C and Vitamin E are critical for quenching the free radical fire.
• An emerging area of study has linked autism with mitochondrial dysfunction.  The mitochondria are the energy producing engines of all cells, and not only impact muscle tone, but can also affect mood and brain function.  The mitochondria need the amino acid carnitine, Coenzyme Q10, and a variety of B vitamins to do their job.
• Mood and behavior modulating neurotransmitters are built from the amino acids tryptophan and tyrosine.  They require Vitamin A and D, B vitamins and other nutrients to become dopamine and serotonin.
While the GFCF diet is certainly an important consideration, a comprehensive nutritional intervention for autism is far more than a single diet that simply removes specific foods from a child’s menu. Instead, it should include all of the following components:
• Evaluation of the child’s current diet for nutritional adequacy
• A visual examination to observe physical signs of nutrient deficiencies
• A proper medical history
• Interventions to heal an impaired digestive tract, such as probiotics (good bacteria),  digestive enzymes, healing foods and/or herbs to mend intestinal cells
• Identification and removal of any problem foods and recommendations for nutritionally comparable replacements
• Specific, individualized nutrition therapy.
• Menu suggestions designed to insure appropriate intake of all major nutrients (fat, carbohydrate and protein), and micronutrients such as vitamins and minerals.
• Supplement recommendations when diet alone will not meet nutritional needs.
• Recommendations and/or referrals to specialists to expand a picky eater’s diet
• Ongoing support and modifications as needed.
When faced with a dizzying array of therapies and other interventions in the struggle to improve the quality of an autistic child’s life, parents should make nutrition a priority early in the process and find a qualified dietitian/nutritionist to develop a specific plan for their child.  Not only can behavioral and cognitive improvements result from dietary modification, but well nourished children will sleep better, have improved moods, and less bowel distress. They will gain much more from their other therapies and may need fewer or less intense medical interventions later.  Without adequate nutrition, it is far harder to achieve these goals.
Vicki Kobliner MS RD, CD-N, is a Registered Dietitian and owner of Holcare Nutrition (www.holcarenutrition.com).  She practices using a functional nutrition approach to help the body heal itself has extensive experience using various diet modalities to help children with autism and related disorders.  Vicki works with infants through adults with chronic illnesses, digestive disorders, food allergies, ADHD and autism and provides fertility and prenatal nutrition counseling.  She is a contributing author to A Compromised Generation: The Epidemic of Chronic Illness in Americas Children.  She can be reached at [email protected]

New Insight into the Cause of SIDS?

2011 April 8
by Maria Rickert Hong

Could too much oxidative stress from toxins, vaccines and other environmental exposures be the cause of SIDS?

By Beth Lambert, Author, A Compromised Generation:  The Epidemic of Chronic Illness in America’s Children (Sentient, 2010)

The cause of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, or SIDS, has long been a mystery.  Recent research, however, may point to pre- and postnatal toxic exposures such as flame-retardants in mattresses, nicotine smoke or chronic immune stimulation as contributors to SIDS.  It is believed that SIDS may be the result of mitochondrial dysfunction in key organs such as the lungs, heart, or brain caused by excessive oxidative stress on infants’ tiny bodies.

Simplified, oxidative stress is when peroxides and free radicals damage our DNA, cells and tissues.  More specifically, oxidative stress can damage mitochondria in our cells. The mitochondria are our cells’ “power plants” helping us to make energy that is used for everything from breathing to thinking.  When mitochondria are damaged by oxidative stress, this can result in mitochondrial dysfunction, a condition where we lose the ability to effectively produce energy in our cells.

Mitochondrial dysfunction can affect all major organs in the body including the brain, heart, lungs, GI tract, in addition to the immune system.  New research reveals that mitochondrial dysfunction is at least part of what causes the symptoms of many conditions including autism, asthma, ADHD, Parkinson’s disease, and many others.

Oxidative stress and mitochondrial dysfunction can be caused by:

  • Exposure to toxins like pesticides, mercury, flame retardants, aluminum, or PVC
  • Exposure to food or environmental allergens
  • Immunological responses (especially chronic infections with viruses, bacteria, or upon inoculation)
  • Radiation (e.g. from WiFi, cellphones, computers, etc.)

Oxidative Stress, Mitochondrial Dysfunction and SIDS

Research shows that at least some cases of SIDS result from mitochondrial dysfunction, including mitochondrial DNA defects and fatty acid oxidation disorders (considered inherited disorders). Geneticist, Dr. Richard Boles of Children’s Hospital Los Angeles documented this scientific finding over a decade ago.  However, scientists are now looking into the possibility that environmentally-derived mitochondrial dysfunction could be one of the potential causes of SIDS.  In other words, exposures that cause oxidative stress in tiny bodies, like toxins, allergens, or vaccinations, could be causing mitochondrial dysfunction and sudden death in infants.

Parental smoking has long been known to be a risk factor for SIDS.  Studies in rhesus monkeys show that monkey fetuses exposed to nicotine smoke (a source of oxidative stress) have a higher risk of SIDS, but prenatal administration of an antioxidant like vitamin C (known to protect against oxidative stress) reduced the risk of SIDS in infant monkeys.  Other studies have confirmed that prenatal administration of antioxidants can reduce oxidative stress on the fetus.

Respiratory and gastrointestinal infections are also known to increase the risk of SIDS.  The risk may be from the increased level of oxidative stress triggered by the infections.  In addition, defects in serotonergic pathways (how serotonin is utilized) are believed to be part of the pathophysiology of SIDS.  Mouse models have shown that a SIDS-like condition can be created in mouse pups by altering or damaging serotonin pathways.  Interestingly, mitochondrial dysfunction is one of the factors that can affect how serotonin is utilized in the brain, particularly because it seems to affect neurons that have high firing rates.

A 2010 study out of University Hospital in Norway found that babies who died of SIDS had signs of inflammation and ischemia in their lungs.  Researchers must now look to whether oxidative stress caused by environmental exposures causes inflammation and ischemia in the lungs of the babies who died of SIDS.

While more research is needed to confirm the suspected connection between oxidative stress, mitochondrial dysfunction and SIDS, it seems clear that reducing exposures to factors that cause oxidative stress is a safe and responsible step to take for all infants.

Sources:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19773461
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20580581
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21320590
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20676222
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21152449
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20805497
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20801236
http://www.scipub.org/fulltext/ajbb/ajbb42198-207.pdf
http://neuromuscular.wustl.edu/mitosyn.html
http://www.sciencemag.org/content/321/5885/130.abstract
http://www.sleepreviewmag.com/issues/articles/2001-10_02.asp
http://www.epidemicanswers.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/05/Mito-Dysfunction-in-Health-Conditions-.pdf
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9627580
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19393019
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21337361
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21383469
http://www.jimmunol.org/content/183/8/5379
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21222555
http://www.nature.com/mp/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/mp2010136a.html#aff2

Pregnant? Antibiotic Use May Affect Your Child’s Health

2011 March 17
by Maria Rickert Hong

Our society tends to view antibiotics as benign wonder drugs useful for everything from sinus infections to urinary tract infections.  Antibiotic use, however, does not come without a cost.  Research shows that babies exposed to antibiotics either prenatally or postnatally have a higher risk of developing a chronic illness like autism, asthma, ADHD, or allergies.  If you are pregnant or if you just had a baby, please read my latest article on Natural News: Prenatal, perinatal and postnatal antibiotics may threaten the health of your child. If you know someone who is pregnant–please pass this article along and advise them to use antibiotics with caution.

Eat Fat? YES! But Make Sure it is the Good Kind

2011 March 3
by Maria Rickert Hong

Following is some nutrition advice from Victoria Kobliner MS RD, excerpted from A Compromised Generation: The Epidemic of Chronic Illness.

Victoria is an integrative registered dietician specializing in chronic illness recovery and pre-pregnancy and pregnancy planning.  For more information see www.holcarenutrition.com.

Fats are necessary. Fats are important. Fats make up the biggest part of our brains, are required for hormone production and insulation, and they carry certain vitamins to the cells. They provide energy, and the right fats even decrease inflammation. We need fat in our diets, just not too much, and in the correct proportion. Choosing the right fats can be extremely confusing as supposedly expert recommendations have flip-flopped in the last decade.

We have been taught that vegetable oils are healthful, and saturated fats cause disease. Yet vegetable oils are high in omega-6 fatty acids, and in excess these promote inflammation. Omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids are essential in the human diet since we cannot manufacture them ourselves, and a healthy balance of omega-6 to omega-3 is believed to be 1:1 to 4:1.[i] The ratio in the typical American diet is approximately 25:1! In addition to the imbalance in the anti-inflammatory omega-3s and proinflammatory omega-6s, margarine and other hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated oils contain trans fats, which have been shown to cause heart disease and increase inflammation.[ii] This type of fat is used in a plethora of processed foods, and although once lauded as the healthier choice, its disease promoting power is so great that municipalities are even banning trans fats in restaurants and food supplies.[iii]

Margarines with minimal trans fats are now on the market, but a decade from now we may find them as dangerous as the partially hydrogenated fats we used to trust. Once again, a food not found in nature has stressed our normal biochemistry. The best fats come from natural sources, such as olive oil, organic butter, coconut oil, rice bran oil, avocado, nuts and seeds. Despite the coconut’s categorization as a saturated fat, it is actually quite healthy. The saturated fat in coconuts is mostly composed of something called medium chain triglycerides (MCT) which have antimicrobial qualities,[iv] and are easily digested as an added benefit to their delicious taste. Fats are delicate and many become rancid when heated, producing disease-promoting free radicals. Nut and olive oil do not tolerate heat well, while coconut and rice bran oil are appropriate for high heat cooking.


[i] G Caramia, “The Essential Fatty Acids Omega-6 and Omega-3: From their Discovery to their Use in Therapy,” Minerva Pediatrica 60, no. 2 (April 2008): 219-33. Italian.

[ii] D Mozaffarian, A Aro, and W Willett, “Health Effects of Trans-Fatty Acids: Experimental and Observational Evidence,” European Journal of Clinical Nutrition 63, suppl. 2 (May 2009): S5-21.

[iii] S Angell et al., “Cholesterol Control Beyond the Clinic: New York City’s Trans Fat Restriction,” Annals of Internal Medicine 151, no. 2 (July 2009): 129-34.

[iv] Do Ogbolu et al., “In Vitro Antimicrobial Properties of Coconut Oil on Candida Species in Ibadan, Nigeria,” Journal of Medicinal Food 10, no. 2 (June 2007): 384-7.