New Study Shows Environment May be Key Autism Cause
U. S. Representative Nita Lowey and women’s health expert Dr. Linda Birnbaum led a forum on the effects that her surrounding environment has on a woman’s health. Titled, “Silent Dangers: Environmental Impacts on Women’s Health,” the program discussed the causes, the impacts, and what can be done to prevent these effects.
The forum was presented at Mercy College in Dobbs Ferry, NY, on Monday, July 28. The audience was made up primarily of women, and there were also a dozen Westchester county mayors, state Assembly members, council people, and village trustees in attendance.
Birnbaum, director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), discussed the growing health issues – among them lupus, autism (in births), and breast cancer -that are attributed to environmental and chemical effects.
“You can’t change your genes, but you can change your environment,” Birnbaum says, “Gaining a better understanding of how the environment effects our health will lead to healthier lives.
The increase in birthrate of children with autism is particularly concerning: A recent study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that one child in 68 has an autism spectrum disorder. This is an increase from one in 88 children, just two years ago. Ten years ago, the rate was one in 150.
Can the mother’s environment be the cause of all of these new cases? Possibly. Environmental causes such as environmental toxins are more prevalent now than in the past, so it’s possible that the increase in autism diagnoses is a result of the increase of environmental toxins.
The NIEHS and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) are providing research grants to help get to the bottom of this problem, and try to prevent it altogether, rather than treating it after the fact.
“I’ve seen firsthand NIH’s impact on improving health through better outcomes,” Rep. Lowey said. She went on to say that those research dollars provide enormous health and economic benefits, “particularly to those women who are fighting breast cancer, trying to better understand their child’s autism or coping with asthma.”