Rise in autism

Jane Tavyev Asher, MD, explains how some environmental factors and toxins are possibly contributing to the ongoing rise in Autism in children
Advice On Autism | Environmental Factors Affecting Rise Of Autism | Kids in the House
KidsInTheHouse the Ultimate Parenting Resource
Kids in the House Tour

Rise in autism

I think that environmental toxins are, quite possibly, contributing to the rise in Autism that we're seeing. The brain cells are very susceptible to toxins during the time of development, from the period in utero through early childhood. This is because the brain is changing very rapidly. The whole body is going from just one cell that was formed from the union of the egg and the sperm, to an organism with multiple different types of cells that carry out different functions. Each of these cells has to have signals that let it know what it's supposed to do and what proteins it's supposed to produce. It's like saying that each cell has the same book of recipes, but there are specific instructions that tell it what page to turn to, to produce that recipe. Environmental toxins can quite possibly interfere with the mechanisms that tell the cells what page to turn to. These are known as epigenetic changes. Methylation is what tells the body what page to turn to, to start producing a recipe. And we know that some environmental toxins can affect this process. The histone binding process involves unwinding the genetic information so that those pages can be read, and so that that recipe, so to speak, can be produced. We feel that environmental toxins maybe affecting things that way as well. And environmental toxins can also be creating direct changes to the DNA, so making actual errors in the cookbook. So as the brain is developing, these changes can take place and environmental toxins can mimic some of the hormones and other signals that tell the brain what to do. So this is how environmental factors, together with genetic changes, can be responsible for the rise in Autism.

Jane Tavyev Asher, MD, explains how some environmental factors and toxins are possibly contributing to the ongoing rise in Autism in children


Expert Bio

More from Expert

Jane Tavyev Asher, MD

Division of Child Neurology - Cedars-Sinai Medical Center

Dr. Jane Tavyev Asher is a board certified Child Neurologist and Director of the Division of Child Neurology at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.  Upon attaining her medical degree from Baylor College of Medicine, she completed residency/ fellowship training in Child Neurology and Neurodevelopmental Disabilities at Baylor College of Medicine/ Texas Children’s Hospital, where her clinical training focused on behavioral neurology, specializing in autism and other developmental disorders, and her research focused on epigenetic factors in autism.  She currently maintains a clinical practice at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, where she sees patients with a variety of neurologic conditions such as Autism Spectrum Disorders, developmental delay, ADHD, learning disabilities, tics, headaches, and cognitive/ behavioral management in neuromuscular disorders.  She holds an academic/ research appointment as Assistant Professor at UCLA in the Departments of Pediatrics, Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences.  Her current research interest remains in the area of autism.  Dr. Tavyev Asher is proud to contribute to the training of the next generation of physicians including those specializing in Pediatrics, Child Psychiatry, and Child and Adult Neurology, and she enjoys giving talks on various neurologic topics locally and nationally.  She is a member of the Child Neurology Society, American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, UCLA CART (Center for Autism Research and Treatment), and The Help Group-UCLA Autism Research Alliance.  She also serves on the Advisory Board of Healthy Child Healthy Child Healthy World.  She enjoys art, music, yoga, skiing, and relaxing with her family.

More Parenting Videos from Jane Tavyev Asher, MD >
Enter your email to
download & subscribe
to our newsletter