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Autism Risk Linked to Banned Chemicals A


study from Drexel University, in Philadelphia, has linked autism spectrum disorder with prenatal exposure to organochlorine chemicals. The researchers examined 1,144 children born in southern California between 2000 and 2003 with mothers that had enrolled in a state-sponsored prenatal screening program. Blood tests were taken during their second trimester of preg- nancy, a critical time for neurodevelopment, to mea- sure exposure to organochlorine chemicals, including polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB) and pesticides such as DDT. These compounds were banned from production in the U.S. in 1977, but remain in the environment. It’s well known that they can cross the placental barrier, impacting neurodevelopment in fetuses.


The researchers selected participants based on previous health diagnoses: 545


children with autism spectrum disorder and 181 with intellectual disabilities, plus 418 free of both issues as a control group. They found a 50 to 82 percent increased autism risk in children with the highest levels of four identified PCB compounds in utero, based on which ones were present. “The results suggest that prenatal exposure to these chemicals above a certain


level may influence neurodevelopment in adverse ways,” says Kristen Lyall, Sc.D., assistant professor in the university’s A.J. Drexel Autism Institute, promising further related studies.


Ayurvedic Program Improves Blood Chemistry A


clinical trial from the University of California-San Diego School of Medicine found that participants in a six-day, ayurvedic-based, well-being program showed metabolic improve- ments in blood tests for inflammation, cardiovascular disease risk (CDR) and cholesterol levels. Study participants consisted of 119


healthy men and women between the ages of 30 and 80. Sixty-five experi- enced a panchakarma program, a detox and rejuvenation protocol involving a vegetarian diet, meditation, yoga, mas- sage, herbal therapy and other healing therapies. The other 54 served as a con- trol group. Blood was analyzed before and after the test period. The researchers, led by Dr. Deepak


Chopra, found measurable decreases in 12 phosphatidycholines (cell- membrane chemicals) associated with cholesterol, inflammation, CDR and Type 2 diabetes risk. They acknowl- edge that due to the short duration of the trial, the immediate changes were likely attributable to the vegetarian diet; more research is needed to determine the complementary role of the other therapies.


“It appears that a one-week pan-


chakarma program can significantly alter the metabolic profile of the person undergoing it,” remarks Chopra.


18 Lehigh Valley www.healthylehighvalley.com


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