What are the causes of autism? For years now, what causes autism have been hotly debated. But in general, researchers have linked it to brain structure and functional irregularities.
However, recent research gives us a clearer picture of what could be more specific causes.
What are the causes of autism? One doctor claims to have the answer
Image source: Pinterest
Despite continuous research, the main reason autism cases continue to rise year after year is still unclear. The question still keeps ringing in our head: what are the causes of autism?
Researchers have disproved any links between autism and vaccination, but the research is less clear on other possible causes.
There are studies exploring the connection between a mother’s diabetes and her child’s risk for autism. Other pregnancy or birth factors, like having a fever, or getting an ultrasound while in the first trimester, are also under study.
But one doctor believes he is close to finding the answer to this long-standing question: what are the causes of autism?
For several years now, Dr. Harvey Karp, an American paediatrician, professor, and children’s environmental health advocate, has been working on a theory that he believes will provide answers.
At a recent Healthy Child Healthy World and Environmental Working Group event, Dr. Karp provided more details.
He explained two theories:
- A shift in diagnosis: “We’re just calling things autism that we didn’t used to call autism.”
- An exposure to certain chemicals, specifically endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs)
The suspected role of EDCs in causing autism
Image source: iStock
In answering the question, “what are the causes of autism?”, Dr. Karp believes that endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) — which many household products contain — could be one of the main factors.
BPA (bisphenol A) and phthalates are examples of EDCs. They are called “everyday chemicals” and are used to make plastic water bottles, metal food cans, and baby bottles.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), EDCs can alter reproductive function, increase the risk of breast cancer, and affect growth, neurological development, and immune function in children.
“Every single one of you have BPA in your bodies just from all the exposure you have,” said Dr. Karp. “You have phthalates, which are plastic parts, as well, which are in every new car…things like that.”
Continuing, Dr. Karp explained that “all of those have a hormonal effect and there are dozens of others; all different classes.”
Since hormones control brain signals, EDCs can enter the “brains of young babies or even before birth and shift the brain’s development.”
Dr. Karp believes a difference in hormones come into play because boys are diagnosed with autism four times more than girls.
“So it could be that if we just pushed it a little bit further, that may be the reason that we’re seeing this increase,” he explained. “I don’t know the answer, but I do know that we have to find the answer. Scientists are looking for that now, but we need to do more research on it.”
How can you make sure to steer clear of BPA and BPS?
Image source: iStock
It’s not just BPA you should be wary of. BPS, a BPA alternative, can be equally harmful. And BPS can still be present in products that claim to be BPA-free.
Here’s what you can do to avoid it:
- Do not buy too many canned fruits and veggies, as their cans can have BPA or BPS lining. Go for fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables instead.
- Go for silicone-based storage products because they are BPA and BPS Free.
- Avoid plastic products that are labeled with #7 because, although they are BPA-free, they might also contain BPS.
Though, as Dr. Karp stressed, more research is needed to strengthen his claims, this latest development greatly helps in solving the riddle that is autism.
sources: WHO, Autism Society, Scientific American
READ THIS ALSO: 4 Ways to know if your child might have autism