Friday, March 6, 2009

Preparing Your Body for Pregnancy; Preparing Your Child for Vaccination

If you have read much about biomedical interventions and recovery from autism, you may be familiar with the analogy of being hit by a bus. As Stan Kurtz writes, “You cannot be cured of being hit by a bus, but you can recover from it. You might even be able to recover enough that you do not need to park in special parking spaces when you go shopping. If you are fortunate enough you might recover well enough that you gain back so much of your functioning such that no one would know you were ever in an accident.” This is a great analogy, especially for those children who have already received a diagnosis of autism. In many cases, while we may not be able to “cure” the autism, if we address the underlying conditions through appropriated testing and treatment, we may be able to recover the child to the point where he or she no longer meets the diagnostic criteria for autism. In many cases, no one would ever guess the child had been “hit by the bus” in the first place.

But wait…

What if we could prevent your child from being hit by the bus in the first place?

Let’s think about pregnancy. When a fetus is growing in the womb, it is incubating. We have been told for some time now that pregnant women should not smoke and should not drink alcohol, because these behaviors are known to be damaging to a developing fetus. The peer-reviewed medical literature is bursting at the seams with paper after paper, documenting the research findings about the teratologic effects of tobacco and alcohol.

Teratologic: the scientific study of visible conditions caused by the interruption or alteration of normal development

Marci’s note: Teratological effects may well include effects that are not “visible” and which may not become known for a long time after the exposure that caused the damage. Examples:

  • Babies who were fed soy formula. Soy is a source of estrogen. When fed as the sole source of nutrition, the amount of estrogen taken in can disrupt the balance between hormones, and may contribute to the early onset of puberty in girls, and delayed onset of puberty in boys.
  • Terbutaline administration. Terbutaline is a medication given to women to stop preterm labor. It has been linked to later onset of learning disabilities and social deficits in children whose mothers took the drug during pregnancy.

By now, everyone has heard that there is an epidemic of autism in this country. There are some people who still want to deny this fact, but the evidence is overwhelming, and it is real. It’s not just because of more inclusive diagnostic criteria. It’s also not purely genetic. There is no such thing as a genetic epidemic. So what’s going on? And why can’t the researchers figure out the cause of autism?

The clue is in the previous question. As long as researchers are looking for “the cause” of autism, they are not going to find it. Why? Because multiple factors working together synergistically is the source of the epidemic. There is no single “smoking gun.” If you are not familiar with the concept of synergism, you need to understand this key concept. Here is the definition:

Synergism: the phenomenon in which the combined action of two things such as drugs or muscles is greater than the sum of their effects individually. In the case of drugs, the result may be dangerous to the patient.

Marci’s note: in the case of toxins (heavy metals, toxic chemicals, pesticides, organophosphates, food additives), the combined action of two (or more) things is greater than the sum of their effects individually. The result may be dangerous to the patient. Alternatively, the synergistic effect of a genetic predisposition and an environmental exposure (to metals, pesticides, medications, etc…) will be more damaging than the effects of either situation (genetic or environmental) alone. The result may be dangerous to the patient. (Remember that in this case, the patient is the infant in the incubator.)

Synergy is an extremely important concept when it comes to autism and other neurodevelopmental disabilities. The concept of synergy is precisely why families who have sought relief through “The Vaccine Court” have not been successful in establishing that their children’s regressive autism was caused by the combination of thimerosal (mercury) and the MMR vaccine. (Note: the basic premise of the argument is that the child’s immune system is compromised by mercury (a heavy metal, which damages multiple systems in the body, including the enzymatic processes, and detoxification pathways), predisposing the child to be more vulnerable to the effects of the MMR vaccine (a vaccination which simultaneously injects three separate viruses into the blood stream, bypassing the body’s primary immune defense mechanisms (gastrointestinal and respiratory), ultimately resulting in a situation which overwhelms the body’s defenses and leads to chronic illness (fever, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, ear infections, respiratory infections, chronic tonsillitis, strep, bronchitis, allergies, asthma, & seizures), which later results in the behavioral and cognitive symptoms that lead to an “autism spectrum disorder” diagnosis.

Please remember that the fever, diarrhea, constipation, vomiting, seizures, etc… tend to occur prior to the behaviors that lead, ultimately, to the “autism” diagnosis. This is an important piece of information, especially since most parents I have spoken with report that the “experts” who diagnosed their children with “autism” often state (with considerable authority) that the physical symptoms (diarrhea, constipation, vomiting) the parents are reporting are “just part of autism.” The physical symptoms are therefore ignored. This is PRECISELY why professionals who do not look further than the obvious behavioral and cognitive presentations, can and do state (with considerable authority), that “Autism is a lifelong condition and there is nothing you can do about it.” From where I sit, it looks like the authorities have it backwards. The physical symptoms happen first and the behavioral and cognitive symptoms happen as a result of the physical symptoms. Therefore, the lack of eye-contact, reduced awareness of the environment, inattention, aggression, and poor social skills are “just part of the gastro-intestinal disease” and if we do something to fix the GI problems, the symptoms associated with the child’s “autism” diagnosis will improve. If this sounds like voodoo science to you, let me phrase it differently.

Consider, for a moment, symptoms that you yourself might have had. Have you ever had a migraine? Have you ever had a “stomach virus” with nausea, pain in your gut, diarrhea, constipation, achy joints, headache and ‘brain-fog?’ If you have, please try to recall at this moment what it felt like. Now, imagine you are in a room full of four year-olds – a preschool environment. Do you feel “social?” Can you concentrate? Are you likely to learn and “achieve on par with your potential?”

If you only consider “autism” – which is a behavioral and cognitive-based diagnosis – and do not look further, the professionals who tell you with so much authority, “There is nothing you can do” are probably correct. If you don’t look beyond the behaviors and the label, it is likely that you are facing a lifelong diagnosis, for which you will not see significant improvement. In other words, your child will most likely never get married or have children, will probably not be able to live independently, will most likely not be able to support himself or herself, and will require full-time support from you until the day you die – which will probably happen prematurely due to all the stress you will endure in the interim. And your marriage? Statistics indicate that the divorce rate among couples with autistic children is 85%. Is this a good time to talk about the economy and the difficulties of single parents raising a child with autism?

I realize I am being brutal. I apologize for that, but not for the need to be honest. Grab a tissue, have a good cry, and suck it up because this discussion is relevant to your life. It is especially relevant if you are considering having children in the future.

“Current Events” time!

On February 12, 2009, the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (Vaccine Court) Special Masters ruled against three families of autistic children, whose histories were chosen as “test cases” in the plaintiffs’ efforts to legally establish causality between thimerosal, MMR, and the children’s regression into autistic symptoms, which happened to occur shortly after receiving the vaccinations.

It was reported that one factor which helped sway the decision against the families is that they claimed their children were “developing normally” prior to the administration of the MMR vaccine. The Masters, upon review of photographs, videos, and medical records of the children in question, concluded that the parents’ claim that their children were “developing normally” was untrue. As I recall, the opinion of the special masters cited things like videos and photographs showing inconsistent eye-contact prior to the MMR administration. This concept of “normal development” hit me like a ton of bricks when I read it.

What does this statement mean, “Developing Normally?”

When I think about this question, the first thing that comes to mind is how shocked I have been and continue to be, when I ask parents the following question, “Did your child have a lot of ear infections during the first four years of life?”

The answer I frequently receive is, “Not a lot. No more than any other children.”
My response: “How many ear infections does your child typically have in a year?”
Typical response: “Three or four.”

What is important about the conversation, as reported above, is that most parents I interview report that their child is having three or four ear infections per year (which are treated with antibiotics) and the parents are also reporting that their child is no different from other children who are “developing normally.”

This is a problem.

Another area where I see a problem involves constipation. My developmental history form specifically asks about constipation and the majority of children I see have had significant problems with the frequency of bowel movements. Several have had to go to the hospital multiple times because their bowels have become impacted. Many parents have told me that they have expressed concerns to their pediatricians or family doctors, regarding their children’s infrequent bowel movements (often once a week or less), only to be told by their trusted physician, “In some children, that’s normal.”

Bowel movements are the body’s way of clearing toxins. (The body also clears toxins through urination and sweating.) Some toxins will ONLY clear the body through bowel movements. If you have toxins building up in the body and the half-life of that toxin is, let’s say 3 days, and the child in question is only having a bowel movement every 7 days, then if that toxin is taken into the body (perhaps through vaccination) and the child does not have a bowel movement for four or five days after taking the toxin it, where do you suppose the toxin goes? It gets stored in the body. Some of it goes into the soft tissues like kidneys and bone marrow. Some of it goes into the brain. Once it’s stored, it’s hard to get it out.

The gist of this is that our children are NOT developing normally if they are having chronic constipation (or diarrhea), or if they are having chronic bacterial and viral infections, upper respiratory infections, bronchitis, tonsillitis, strep, allergies, and asthma. We have an entire generation of children who are more prone to illness than children who are truly “developing normally.” The problem is, we have become so accustomed to this that we now accept this situation as “normal.” This needs to change. (Note: The generation of children who are so prone to infections and gastrointestinal problems coincides with the administration of the Hepatitis B vaccination at birth. For more on this topic, please read the post Vaccines and Autism - Your Child vs. The Greater Good.)

So, going back to the concept of teratology – things that disrupt normal development … In order to prevent more children from being “hit by the bus,” we need to pay closer attention to the things that may disrupt “normal development,” starting before conception even occurs. We need to prepare the incubator. For those children who are already here, we need to assess the status of their overall health and development BEFORE we inject them with multiple viruses simultaneously, and BEFORE we allow anyone to inject them with substances (thimerosal, aluminum, formaldehyde, etc.) that are KNOWN to have teratologic effects. Remember, the first rule of vaccinations is “do not vaccinate a sick child.” The problem is that when we view children with chronic conditions (viruses, bacterial infections, etc.) as “normal,” our perception of what constitutes “a sick child” has been skewed. Those are the children who are being “thrown in front of the bus.” My point: If we identify (accurately) those children who ARE sick, and get them healthy BEFORE administering vaccinations, we are likely to decrease the numbers of children who subsequently regress and end up receiving an autism diagnosis.

Back to the main question at hand – what do you need to do to increase your chances of having a healthy baby – one who stays healthy and does not become part of the estimated 1 in 67 American children with an autism spectrum disorder?

  1. Don’t wait until you are pregnant to start preparing your body. Remember, you are the incubator. Imagine for a moment that you have just delivered a baby that was born premature, and had to be placed in the NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit) of the hospital. When your precious infant is taken from your womb and placed in the incubator in the NICU, you expect that the incubator will be a healthy environment for your fragile infant. By healthy, I mean, you expect that the incubator is free from bacteria (strep, staph, clostridia), viruses (Herpes, Measles, Varicella [Chickenpox], Human Papilloma Virus, Epstein-Barr, Cytomegalovirus), yeast (candida albicans and others), and parasites. You also expect that the incubator your infant is placed in will not be contaminated with heavy metals (lead, mercury, antimony, arsenic, cadmium, aluminum [not technically a ‘heavy metal’]), and that the incubator will not be sprayed with pesticides or contaminated with organophosphates. In essence, what you expect, is that your precious baby will be placed in a pristine environment, in which he or she will be able to develop, to his or her full potential.

If you expect strangers to care for your baby this way, shouldn’t you do everything you can to care for your future child with the same concern?

This entire thought process should start at least one to two years before you become pregnant.
If you live in the Tri-state (Indiana, Kentucky, Illinois), you should know that you live in the coal-burning power plant capitol of the world. If you have lived here for any length of time, you have been exposed to heavy metals (from coal-burning power plants), pesticides and organophosphates (from farming). If you get annual flu shots and have not specified that you want thimerosal-free flu shots, you have had a yearly dose of mercury injected directly into your bloodstream.

If you live in an area where you are regularly exposed to heavy metals and other environmental toxins, you owe it to your future children to find out what toxins have built up in your system, before you make it an incubator for your future child. You would not want your child to be placed in a hospital incubator contaminated with bacteria, viruses, and toxins (metals, pesticides, organophosphates), so why would you allow your child to spend the most important growing stage in just such an environment. If you do not pursue primary intervention that assesses your own body stores of these toxins, that is exactly what you are doing. The incubator is contaminated.

Clean it up before you trust it with the future of your precious baby.

2. If you are the parent of a young child and you are concerned about whether or not to vaccinate him or her, you need to become informed about your options as a parent. One of those options I would encourage is to have your child evaluated first to determine if there are physical problems that should be addressed, prior to vaccination. This may be especially important if your child has gastrointestinal problems, or recurrent viral and/or bacterial infections.

To learn more about assessment for genetic vulnerability and toxic exposures before you get pregnant, or before vaccinating your child, contact Marcella Piper-Terry, M.S.; Biomedical Consultant;