I feel so fortunate to have found Dr. Miloslav Gardyasz (in Darowish & Associates). He is an MD, trained like anyone else, but he's holistic-minded and a practicing "greenie." He refuses to meet with pharma reps, insisting that he prefers to be educated by other physicians and researchers and not by paid laypeople. With no disrespect to my pharma rep friends, I respect him for this position. When I brought an organic infant formula to him, he read the ingredients and thanked me for bringing it to his attention. It was not a mainstream brand, but I believed, and he concurred, that it was better than Similac's organic offering (another topic for another day).
Today at Timmy's well visit, he took time to answer all my questions, and knowing that I'm a "green mom," offered some learnings from a conference he attended recently in Miami. I am not going to do it justice, but I'm trying my best: He spoke about new findings on Autism that suggest that it can be detected between 6-12 months accurately by three signs: (1) Not discerning different faces or reacting to different people's faces differently, (2) I can't recall the other two, sorry! If I can find them, I'll come back and fill this in. I can tell you a primary marker was NOT speech delay. That was a secondary symptom. The current thinking is that autistic kids/people do not get the same positive feeling from their dopamine receptors that "normal" people do from social interactions. So they don't seek them out. Since talking is a function of being social, it is related.
He says scientists are learning that a child can be predisposed to autism (or childhood cancers) genetically, and that the genes can be "turned on" by environmental factors. As an example, if a kid is genetically predisposed to autism, being around clinically depressed parents can trigger the child to manifest autistic traits. Scary, and also hopeful. Hopeful because most environmental triggers can be controlled. Parents can be treated for depression.
Also, many researchers believe that environmental toxins are triggers. According to Dr. G (and also, famously, Jenny McCarthy), farmers in the U.S. spray wheat with a neurotoxin to help it grow. Of course, the neurotoxin stays on the wheat and we eat it. It can be passed to the developing child, as are many toxins, unfortunately (I posted a video on my Facebook page about this). As you know, if you read my blog, I am adamantly opposed to toxins in our food production, in lawn care, in personal products, etc., for OBVIOUS reasons.
He also encouraged me to continue with the recommended immunization schedule, ensuring me that he has spent countless hours reading abstracts and papers that strongly refute any connection between autism and immunizations. He says that immunologists are finding more and more reasons to keep the current 2-year schedule, because the imprint (I might be using this word wrong) of an immunization is greatest during these formative years. The immune system is informed by these and that's why they worked.
He quoted a statistic that in 2008, there were 128 cases of Measles in the U.S. -- 10x the number in all of the past 10 years -- and all were in unvaccinated children. Thanks to immunizations, these childhood diseases were nearly wiped out, so we as parents don't often realize how horrible they are, deadly in many cases. We do not realize that failing to immunize our children could invite an epidemic again. It would transfer much quicker now that our society is so mobile and transient. In Dr. G's words, if your kid comes down with a pneumococcal infection, you're going to have a lot more to worry about than the risks of any potential side effects.