Great article. Depressing as heck though.
I just excerpted a tiny bit for you in my post. Please read the whole thing. In fact, read all of Harvey Karp's articles on Autism here.
Are Children with Autism..."Male-adjusted"?
Our increasing exposure to EDCs lends support to a new hypothesis about the cause of autism, called the "extreme male theory." This theory, proposed by Dr. Simon Baron-Cohen and colleagues, speculates that autism is caused by something changing a fetus' hormonal balance that then leads to over-masculinization of the developing brain.
Could that "something" be the slurry of hormone-altering chemicals we're exposed to every day? Are EDCs the reason autism-type disorders are 4-9 times more common in boys? (Vaccine side effects never show such lopsided impact on boys versus girls...a glaring fact that is totally ignored by those promoting the vaccine theory of autism.)
The "extreme male theory" has been supported by two interesting bits of evidence: 1) fetuses with slightly elevated levels of testosterone grow up acting extra-male (more interested in things than people, slow language development, etc.); 2) children with autism -- boys and girls -- show extra-male characteristics (e.g. poor social ability, language delay).
Here is where the very interesting link to EDCs comes into play: EDCs often act as weak estrogens and estrogen feminizines the body, but in a fetus' developing brain estrogen actually has the opposite effect...it causes masculinization.
For now, these ideas are just interesting theories, but the evidence is concerning. We urgently need more research to discover whether EDCs, or other chemicals, are linked to the worldwide rise in autism. Fortunately, on that front, there is very good news to report. Thanks to a dedicated group of pediatricians -- members of groups like the AAP and CDC -- the National Children's Study (NCS) was launched in January 2009.