Can Epigenetics explain autism's causes?

Before going into Epigenetics we first have to address all or most of the other theories out there. Problem with most theories, they all have holes or inconsistencies that thwart consistent provability. For instance, if it's Thimerosal then how is it cases have only increased since it's removal? And how about children showing autistic signs (like my son) since birth? Some say it's genetic, but that's utterly incomplete as well. There are many documented cases of identical twins in which the genes are compared and confirmed identical - yet one is typically developing while the other severely autistic. Some say it's tied to older men, that our genetic material breaks down over time, but there are plenty of young adults siring autistic children. Others say it's pesticides and or methylmercury from coal burning power plants, but when we look for the suspect compounds in our afflicted children's systems - they aren't there.
These theories have pulled scientists and parents in all directions searching for The Answer - The Smoking gun that we can find, sneer at and put away to never hurt our children again.
The new science of epigenetics may be able to finally tie together all the loose ends and finally be up to the task of explaining autism's causes. What science has found is that there is a layer of programing over the hard gene sequence that basically turns a gene on or off. (Expressed or suppressed) So in the case of the twins - though they may have the same exact genes that are undamaged, the programming that turns the autistic child's genes on and off is off kilter. What causes this? Scientists have discovered environmental toxins that even your grandparents were exposed to could affect the children being born today. Here's an example. Scientists exposed lab animals to a particular pesticide. Expectantly they exhibited neurological damage and autistic like behaviors. Here's the catch - they compared the animals hard genes before and after exposure and determined they were undamaged. They then bred the animals... Surprisingly four generations later the great great siblings exhibited the same percentage of autistic like behavior and neurological damage - even though they were never directly exposed to pesticides and it would not be found in their blood stream. Scientists have discovered that our epigenetic systems to be so much more susceptible to minute amounts of toxins like pesticides and worse yet the epigenetic mutaltions can be passed down through the generations making the causal relationship or "evidence of harm" so elusive. But that is all soon changing as scientists will soon begin experiemnts where they can see epigenetic changes caused by suspect toxins and correlate them to the epigenetic hot spots in autism victims.
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But that is all soon changing as scientists will soon begin experiemnts where they can see epigenetic changes caused by suspect toxins and correlate them to the epigenetic hot spots in autism victims.
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Dust Bowl silicosis: A plausible epigenetic link to autism

Epigenetics theorizes that any environmental stress on a generation can influence the bio-physiology of future generations. For example, starvation experienced by male and female grandparents (at different life stages for each gender) has been implicated in the development of diabetes in their grandchildren. Epigenetics transmits damage caused by toxins, yes, but it also transmits the effects of other, non-chemical stressors.

Consider that, for a decade in the 1930's, so-called "black blizzards" of dust storms swept the United States from the Eastern Rockies to the Atlantic seaboard. Plains states residents suffered the most: while some died of the "Dust Bowl pneumonia" that was a form of black lung disease, others survived the lung damage and oxygen deprivation to mature and have chldren of their own. How many people in Dust Bowl-era America developed breathing complications that, in turn, impacted their oxygen metabolism? If one generation's experience of starvation can produce a later one's increased incidence of diabetes, what could be the trans-generational effects of long-term oxygen starvation?

I would not be surprised to discover autism spectrum disorders among these effects. Is anyone testing this hypothesis?

Yes--I agree wholeheartedly!

As the mother of three, all of whom are unvaccinated and two of whom are autistic, I do believe that epigenetics are at play in the causation of this epidemic. Since before becoming a mother I have been concerned about the effect toxins in our environment are having on children's development--if was a large part of the reason I chose not to have my children vaccinated.

But we did not escape unscathed. I have read and read and read searching for a plausible explanation--one that explains how and why vaccines trigger autism in so many children while still explaining its existence in unvaccinated children like my own. I have no fillings, eat no fish, and have been GF/CF for years--yet my children are autistic, too. There has to be more to the picture--a genetic piece we're missing.

But epigenetics has the potential to answer both questions at once--to prove that there is a genetic piece in play that is making our children vulnerable like never before. I hope that this is an avenue that is more thoroughly explored soon!

I'm sorry, Emerson, but I

I'm sorry, Emerson, but I don't agree with your hypothesis or conclusion. In fact, many of the basic assumptions you propose are wrong.

Thimerosal has not been removed from vaccines. Currently, moms receive about 70 percent of the total load of thimerosal they received before thimerosal was "removed" from vaccines.

In addition, moms are now advised to get the flu vaccine during their pregnancy - up to and including the third trimester.

A few other problems with your “we-removed-thimerosal-so-all-vaccines-are-by-default-safe” model are the lack of testing for the reformulated vaccines and the lack of testing to determine the current level of thimerosal in vaccines.

Thimerosal is still used as a preservative in the manufacture of vaccines and is chelated out during the final preparation. Yet, there are no safety or quality tests to determine how much remains.

You ask. “Where are the offending compounds in our children's systems?” and the answer is, many of them are found in the fatty tissues, gut, spinal fluid, and brains of affected children.

Epigenetics is another end-run on Occam's razor, an attempt to divert attention away from the single greatest causative agent in the epidemic of autism - unsafe vaccines – a one-size fits all approach that is destroying a generation of children.

Please research epigenetics

I'm not arguing thimerosal is not the reason - on the contrary epigenetics is the science that may be able to finally pin down the pharma companies. What I'm getting at is if evidence of harm was so easy as you propose - that these suspect compounds can be "found" in certain body tissues there would be direct causal evidence. But when it's not there, then the gov't and pharma companies lie back on their laurels and say "where is it?" Epigenetics reveals how those Thimerosal shots given to your grandparents, your parents and you over your life span have altered your genetic systems enough to pass down mutated genetic expression - even if the mother did not receeive any thimerosal laced vaccinations during pregnancy and even if the child never received a single vaccination in their short lives. Please look up Nova's "Ghost In You Genes" and buy the DVD or try to watch on line.
Epigenetics is not a "one size fits all" it's the science that can tie together the loose ends and inconsistancies of all the theories and in essence prove them right! Unfortunately thimerosal is not the only culprit being tied to autism. So many other neurological toxins are as well. Please also look up a recent California study of people's location to pesticide sprayed fields and the incidence of autism. People who lived closest to these fields showed 6 times the amount of autism. Furthermore look up a Texas study showing the increase of autism compared to the location and discharge of coal burning power plants. It shows similar terrifying statistics. These compounds are not breaking the genes but insidiously changing their expression which has made finding autism's causes so elusive. Bottom line, our technology is poisoning our children and our future. Epigenetics will simply be the bridge to prove evidence of harm to these suspect compounds - so this by far, is not one size fits all.
As a matter of fact testing may soon begin where animals will be exposed to thimerosal, they will then be bred. They will check their epigenetic markers for changes in expression and correlate this to epigenetic hot spots suspected of causing autism. Once we can prove thimerosal, pesticides, methylmercury and such are the compounds changing gene expression that correlate to autism we will have our smoking gun and then we can get compounds like thimerosal COMPLETELY removed from all vaccines and force the pharma companies to begin restitiuion.
The crime here is as we wait for this, the poisoning continues
We're all on the same team here.

My main point is there is

My main point is there is more than enough evidence now to prove a variety of toxins, including thimerosal causes autism. We don't need to rely on epigenetics to prove evidence of harm.

From the Geier's dental amalgam studies to the coal-burning power plant studies in Texas the direct casual evidence is ample. Throw in the Burbacker monkey studies and every colonoscopy performed by Krigsman and the number of times Wakefield’s work has been replicated and the evidence is overwhelming.

We have the evidence. What we don’t have are the bully pulpits and economic or political power. This is no longer a question of medicine and science as it is of corruption and the continuing cover-up and epigenetics does not address these problems.

You're right, it's falling on deaf ears, but

Like the book Silent Spring a public outcry finally made the changes to get rid of DDT. It took over a decade and the Government did nothing until forced by the public. Unfortunately this is going to be exponentially harder because we're dealing with a number of toxins. The only way we are going to see quick meaningful changes is when the politicians get out of bed with industry. I know you're probably snickering to think "that will never happen" but someday a politician's child will get diagnosed - when he looks into his son's distant blank eyes and has to personally deal with autism - only then will we begin to see true advocacy and changes. And at the rate autism is increasing - it's inevitable.

Time after time one can point

Time after time one can point to special interest groups poisoning Americans in the name of profits. It was well known for thousands of years that lead was harmful. Yet, the cute little Dutch boy adorning Dutch Boy paint cans was a marketing ploy dreamed up in the 1920s to placate parents into believing that painting the baby’s room with lead-based paint was okay. It was not until the early 1070s that the government mandated lead be removed from gasoline.

I believe thimerosal will turn out to be like lead in that no threshold for a safe amount of lead in the body has been discovered. Instead, we get these feel-good words like “trace” amounts.

It will not be the politicians who turn this around. It is up to you and me and every other parent to hold those responsible accountable for their actions and this means developing the grass-roots network to begin building economic and political power.


This is why I am trying to get people to really understand that the government and industry has put "acceptable limitations" on exposure, but finding out that such minute exposure can now harm siblings generations down the road is a whole new ball game. Epigenetics is a fascinating yet terrifying revelation in how these toxins can hurt for generations. Even if we began to clean everything up today it will take generations to wash these toxins out of our gene pool.