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  • The Bad, The Ugly And The Good: If Pre-Natal Exposure To Chemicals Causes Some Cases Of Autism, Will Resveratrol Reverse It?

    October 5, 2014: by Bill Sardi

    Researchers now recognize that autism involves modifiable genetic factors in the brain.  In the proposed therapy genes are not structurally altered but their ability to make proteins (called gene expression) is modified by use of vitamins and other small molecules.  It may be possible to molecularly reverse autism.  [Epigenomics June 2011]

    Only a small fraction of autistic children exhibit gene mutations (structural problems in the DNA ladder).  Early environmental exposure to chemicals is strongly suspected as causal.  Children today are surrounded by thousands of synthetic chemicals. Two hundred of them are neurotoxic in adult humans, and 1000 more in laboratory models. [Current Opinion Pediatrics April 2010]

    Researchers even postulate that seemingly innocuous chemicals in perfumes need to be investigated to see if there is any association with autism since chemicals in perfumes are expected to reach the developing fetal brain.  [Medical Hypotheses June 2013]

    Autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) are a group of developmental conditions described solely by the convergence of core symptoms such as repetitive behavior, limited range of interests, impaired communication, decreased social interaction, aggression, anxiety, hyperactivity, epilepsy and sleep disorders.

    Among the brain chemicals suspected to be involved in autism is GABA, a calming rather than an excitability agent.  For example, alcohol consumption increases GABA and results in relaxation and with overconsumption, somnolence.  A deficit of GABA or inhibited transmission of GABA may explain some of the symptoms seen among autistic children.

    Indeed, when laboratory mice are injected with a common drug used to treat epilepsy (valproic acid, aka Depakote) brain circuits are abnormally excited.  A counteracting GABA deficit could explain the hyperactivity associated with autism.  [International Journal Neuropsychopharmacology July 2013]

    Alarmingly, between 2005-2007 there were 7.9 million annual prescriptions for anti-epileptic medications among young women age 15-44 years with valproic acid being the most frequently prescribed.  Fetal exposure to valproic acid is associated with deficits in mental function and increases the risk for autism.  Researchers in Europe report a 442% increased risk for autism among mothers who used valproic acid.  Valproic acid is also commonly used to treat bipolar disorder which is in vogue these days.  For unexplained reasons, young women are being prescribed valproic acid without warnings about risks to their newborn children. [Journal American Medical Assn. April 24, 2013]

    The children of mothers who use valproic acid are about 8 times more at risk to develop autistic symptoms than the general population. [Pathology Research International 2013]

    A single injection of valproic acid into pregnant mice produces severe autistic-like symptoms.  [Brain Research Aug 14, 2013]

    Here is the good news, even if it has only been demonstratedin the animal lab.  Prenatal administration of resveratrol has been demonstrated to prevent valproic acid-induced social impairment in laboratory animals. [Neuroscience Letters Sept 28, 2014]

    Resveratrol certainly does regulate the GABA cell receptor on the surface of brain cells. [Korean Journal Physiology Pharmacology April 2103]

    Another chemical involved in nerve transmission in the brain is called brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) which is believed to be involved in autism. [Nutrition Oct 2013] Resveratrol favorably increases BDNF and is protective of brain cells. [Neurochemical Research May 2011]  — ©2014 Bill Sardi,

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