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Autism is What You Eat? Study Finds Links to Diet

April 18, 2012

BOISE, Idaho - The epidemic of autism in children may be linked to what they eat, suggests a study recently reported in the journal "Clinical Epigenetics." According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), at least one in every 88 children in Idaho has an autism disorder.

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."

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.

The study published in Clinical Epigentics singles out high-fructose corn syrup, saying its consumption is linked to dietary loss of minerals. Wallinga urges moms-to-be and parents of young ones to focus on mineral-rich diets.

"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."

The CDC says autism disorders are more likely in people who have certain genetic or chromosomal conditions, and more than half of those diagnosed with autism do not have intellectual disorders.

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

Deb Courson Smith, Public News Service - ID