I had the pleasure of attending the Autism Canada Conference on October 9th and 10th, 2014 in Burlington. During those 2 days, a great wealth of information was shared by a brilliant set of speakers. Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is of special interest to me in my practice, so I thought I’d share some of the highlights on the latest research focused on an aspect of ASD that is not discussed much, prevention. This only seems logical, since susceptibility to autism is 38% genetic and 62% is environmental. ASD affects 1 in 68 children, which is quite alarming. Although there is no single identified cause of ASD, some of the processes involved are known to us and we can use this as reference when it comes to prevention. Most of what we can do is actually before conception and during pregnancy. However, there are still things that can be done after your little one is born. Here are the main things to consider for the prevention of neurological issues that arise in ASD:
- Optimal levels of vitamin D may reduce the risk of autism. It is suggested that this protection may be due to its anti-autoimmune, anti-inflammatory, and cell protecting effects. The specific test used to check levels is called 25-hydroxy vitamin D levels and it can be easily tested by your naturopathic doctor.
- Promoting healthy gut bacteria in your baby means healthy immunity and brain function. Ways of achieving this includes breastfeeding, having skin to skin contact with them from birth and possibly also supplementing with a good quality probiotic that contains the Bifidus species. New studies are showing that there is an important link between the microbes in our gut and the developing brain.
- Don’t feed your children junk food. Even though the food industry claim their food dyes are safe, they are basing this on studies performed on individual dyes. Very little, if anything, is known of the effect that food dyes have in combination, which is how they are mainly found in junk, processed foods. Take a look at the ingredient list in some of the most popular snack foods and you will find more than one food colouring in each product! One study showed that these additives have a synergistic effect and can be toxic to our brain cells. In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics recognizes that artificial additives common in children’s foods increase hyperactivity, attention deficit and developmental delays.
- Feed your children healthy, fresh and whenever possible, organic foods from early. The polyphenol content of fruits and vegetables are known to reduce systemic inflammation, protect brain cells against injury and can promote memory, learning and cognitive function. There are many online resources to give you fun and appealing recipes ideas for young children.
As you know, ASD is a complex and there is no specific known cause. However, there is enough research available to direct us towards making healthier choices in our lifestyle in order to play a proactive role in the health and future of our children.
Aida Martinez Chorro
Aida Martinez Chorro is a naturopathic doctor and homeopath who loves working with children and their families. She uses safe and natural interventions to help children with autism, digestive conditions, as well as working with those who want to be proactive about their aging brain and who have family histories of dementia. But what she’s really passionate about is giving families the results they want to see and helping them lead happier lives together.
She practices at the North Toronto Homeopathic Medicine and Wellness Centre in the Yonge and Lawrence neighbourhood. You can find out more information by calling 647-887-8117 or by visiting www.thehealthpath.ca