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New Study Links Autism With the Typical American Diet

April 16, 2012

BISMARCK, N.D. - The epidemic of autism in children may be linked to what they eat, suggests a study recently reported in the journal "Clinical Epigenetics." An unhealthy diet interferes with the body's ability to eliminate toxic chemicals, increasing the risk of long-term health problems such as autism, explains David Wallinga, senior adviser in science, food and health with the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP).

"We're not pretending that it's not complex. It is. But the important thing to realize is that these environmental and nutritional factors are critical, that they work together, and that ultimately a lot of them are preventable causes of autism."

As an example of the link between nutrition and autism, Wallinga points out that eating highly processed and sweetened foods can affect the body's ability to detoxify.

"People who consume high-fructose corn syrup can develop problems with mineral deficiencies, and these deficiencies in turn can make the body have more problems getting rid of contaminates."

To reduce the risk, Wallinga advises pregnant women and children to maintain a diet higher in the antioxidants and minerals they need.

"If you've got enough calcium in your diet, it's going to protect you from absorbing lead. Concurrently, if you are calcium-deficient, then you're going to absorb more lead in your gut and therefore have more lead in your bloodstream."

This study comes in the wake of two others - one linking autism to obesity during pregnancy and another showing the rate of autism spectrum disorders increased by nearly 80 percent from 2002 to 2008.

More information is available at The full study report is available at

John Michaelson, Public News Service - ND