This in the NYTimes today, “Government Says 2 Common Materials Pose Risk of Cancer”, reminds me of one of the early, not so funny, episodes when we were first realizing that my daughter, Lily, had real issues.
She was 2 + years old and under going evaluation for loss of speech and severe tantrums. My husband and I were in my office looking at the books. I was just starting out on my own in private medical practice in OB/GYN and wanted his business advice. Lily was running around the office as toddlers do and I was watching her carefully trying to keep her interested in the magazines and toys in the waiting room. My husband asked me a question, I turned to answer him, and when I turned back Lily was racing around the corner toward the exam rooms. By the time I reached her, maybe 10 seconds, she was coming out of a room tipping up a jar of formaldehyde into her mouth. She immediately spit it out and we were steps from the emergency room. We raced her over there and despite her struggles, managed to put a tube down her throat and pump her stomach. I remember this as being the first time I had to actually do the procedure on my own daughter because the ER personnel were too intimidated by my autistic daughter. We admitted her to the hospital, gave her charcoal a few more times and all was well (relatively). The pediatrician came on rounds to see us in the hospital and commented on how attached to me she was (this in the waning days of “refrigerator mothers” as the cause of autism). Lily was draped around my neck and clinging for dear life.
Now it seems there is a greater risk in her environment from common household items than in the bit of formaldehyde she might have absorbed back then in the office.
We are finding in genetic studies that multiple genetic changes are involved in causing the problems in autism and these changes are not inherited but develop “de novo” either in the egg or sperm or in-utero, in the developing fetus. These environmental chemicals are everywhere, in the air, water, earth, in the food, in the bedding, in the clothing that we wear and in the chairs that we sit on.
How are we to process this information and change this scenario?