Autism Brain Growth Hormone Analog?

Earlier, we saw that the Autism rate in Israel is orders of magnitude less than in other countries, such as the USA and UK. Might there be a difference in the environment in Israel that leads to this, and can we find it by a directed search?

This is entirely speculative. I’m putting it here mostly just to document the idea and the potential connections. It is, at most, an idea for investigation.

The thesis runs this way: The brains of autistics are known to be larger and to have more neurons. Each neuron is a little smaller, so the brain is somewhat larger, but also has more neurons per unit volume, so total neurons is very much higher. There are several ‘possibles’ here. One is just that the normal apoptosis that prunes cells to proper locations gets interference. As noted in the brain size link, this might be due to a shortage of Omega-3 fatty acids.

It is fairly well established, for example, that a diet rich in fish and their omega-3 fatty acids aid brain development in infants.

Has a nice write-up of how the developing fetus can scavenge omega-3 from the mother and store it to excess as it is needed for brain development.

The wiki has an interesting snippet too:

DHA deficiency is associated with cognitive decline Phosphatidylserine (PS) controls apoptosis, and low DHA levels lower neural cell PS and increase neural cell death. DHA are reduced in the brain tissue of severely depressed patients.

That “controls apoptosis” part. So we have a potential failure of apoptosis at a key point in fetal brain development along with a dietary substance that can control apoptosis… So the potential exists for too high a level of PS causing too low a level of apoptosis (perhaps limited to only a genetic subset of the population). Or an environmental agent could act on the same pathways as PS so as to interfere with the ‘control’.

So one line of investigation would be to look at DHA and DHA analog chemicals in the environment and diet. But there might be other avenues of brain growth to investigate as well. Not the ‘pruning to function’ of apoptosis, but the overgrowth of neurons in general.

The thesis is that at some crossover point of smaller neurons and more of them, the normal ‘wiring up’ of the brain by growing nerve fibers to other regions gets blocked such that capacities fail to form. So my question is simply: What environmental factor might cause the brain cells to have over proliferation?

This might be different from the typical ‘growth hormones’ or it might be the same. I don’t know. What hormone causes cell division in growth vs simply a larger sized cell? I don’t know. My assumption is that growth hormone works by stimulating cell devision (thus more cells) that can then increase in size to normal (for things like muscle cells) as that individual cell develops.

For the brain, things are more complicated. The brain growth pushes the skull plates outward, at least until the sutures fuse. So there is a bit of a ‘race condition’ between skull bone growth and brain growth. An environmental hormone analog might have an impact by influencing either or both of these. Abnormal early fusion of the sutures, or excess brain cell division that was not matched by a corresponding rate of bone growth. There is some statistical correlation of abnormal suture fusion and Autism, but it is not strong. Still, it might indicate a more generalized growth signal disruption via an environmental hormone analog. Or a drug.

These folks are looking to sue over a potential drug connection:

Zoloft and Autism – Lawsuit

Recent studies suggest that the use of antidepressants such as Zoloft, Prozac, Paxil, Lexapro, Celexa, Luvox, or Wellbutrin during pregnancy may cause various birth defects including autism in children born to mothers who used antidepressants during pregnancy.

If you or someone you know took an antidepressant such as Zoloft, Prozac, Paxil, Lexapro, Celexa, Luvox, or Wellbutrin during pregnancy and have a child with a birth defect, you should contact us right away to determine if you are entitled to compensation.

List of Birth Defects Caused by Zoloft

Recent studies suggest that the use of Zoloft during pregnancy could cause a number of different birth defects including:


Cranial Defects

They also find it connected more generally to cranial defects:

Zoloft Cranial Defects

Congenital birth defects are many of the most severe side effects associated with the use of SSRI Antidepressants such as Zoloft (sertraline), Paxil (paroxetine), Prozac (fluoxetine), Lexapro (escitalopram) and Celexa (citalopram). They include: Congenital Heart Defects, Congenital Lung Defects, Congenital Abdominal Wall Defects, Congenital Cranio-facial Defects,and other birth defects and malformations affecting various other areas of the child’s anatomy.

Cranio-facial Birth Defects and Zoloft

According to scientific studies, women who take SSRI Antidepressants, such as Zoloft (sertraline), Paxil (paroxetine), Prozac (fluoxetine), Lexapro (escitalopram) and Celexa (citalopram) during her pregnancy are at least twice as likely to give birth to children with serious congenital birth defects like Craniosynostosis. Craniosynostosis is a cranio-facial malformation birth defect. SSRI Antidepressant use during pregnancy has also been linked to congenital heart defects, lung defects, limb deformities, clubfoot, as well as other cranio-facial malformations.

Now, these are lawyers looking to rake in settlement money, so may be stretching the causality a bit… Still, it’s an example of an environmental agent that is causing changes in suture closure of the skull. We also have very high levels of use of antidepressants in the USA. So one immediate check would just be the relative usage in Israel vs the UK and USA and any tendency of Israelis to avoid the use of drugs during or just before pregnancy to a greater degree.

Another point is that hormone control of growth issue.

Of course, the immediate suspect for me was Bisphenol-A. It is found in various plastics, including the plastic lining of tin cans. It is known to have synthetic hormone like effects. Folks have noticed that it might be an issue, even in Israel:

Health Ministry Warning on BPA Bottles
The health ministry has warned against using baby bottles with Bisphenol A (BPA).
By Maayana Miskin
First Publish: 2/22/2011, 7:02 PM / Last Update: 2/22/2011, 7:17 PM
The health ministry warns against using baby bottles that contain the compound Bisphenol A (BPA). While there is no prohibition on using BPA in Israel, bottles that contain the compound have been marked with the number 7 inside a triangle.

In Canada and the European Union, BPA has been banned for use in baby bottles. United States governmental bodies have expressed concern as well, and have said they will work to reduce BPA contact with food.

BPA is used to produce polycarbonate, a widely used plastic. Recent research has led to concerns that BPA use near food could lead to ingestion of the compound, which could in turn cause a variety of health problems.

Health Ministry experts have yet to release definitive conclusions regarding the safety of BPA, but suggest that parents take cautionary measures.

The best cautionary measure is to use bottles that do not contain BPA, officials say. If a bottle that may contain BPA is in use, officials recommend avoiding heating the contents of the bottle, as heat is believed to cause BPA to enter food.

Instead, formula or other baby food should be heated in a utensil that does not contain BPA, and poured into the bottle only after it has cooled.

OK, back to the USA vs Israel:

In the USA we have polycarbonate and related plastics all over the place. Canned foods in the plastic can lining (that is heated when the can is cooked in production). Plastic baby bottles (very often heated in the microwave oven…). Plastic lined food retorts (those microwavable plastic food pouches). A very large shift to more plastics in contact with food, tossed into the microwave for heating. As the bisphenol-A can can be accumulating in the mother prior to pregnancy, it would also potentially explain the larger brain size at birth.

That leads to the next question: To what extent are similar food storage and preparation techniques used in Israel? Is there a higher emphasis on fresh foods, not canned, or on foods prepared in traditional ways, not microwaved prepackaged foods? Basically, what is the level of bisphenol-A (or potential similar contaminant) exposure in Israel?

When our children were being raised, we mostly did breast feeding, but when milk was given by bottle, we used glass bottles. At the time, many folks were using plastic bottles in the microwave… I just liked the ‘traditional’ quality of glass baby bottles and, frankly, thought the plastic a bit ‘tacky’. So to what extent do Israeli’s find plastic ‘tacky’ and avoid it? (Could it be that simple?…)

Brains and Hormones

The basic thesis has been given above, along with ideas for investigation. Here I’m going to give a couple of ‘connections’ that are interesting. Turns out that Human Growth Hormone is produced in the brain. This then also implies that things which interfere with the growth hormone releasing hormones would also be a ‘dig here’.

Growth Hormone Is Made In The Brain, Report Scientists

ScienceDaily (Mar. 28, 2006) — Scientists have found that growth hormone, a substance that is used for body growth, is produced in the brain, according to an article published in this week’s Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The researchers — from three institutions — found that growth hormone is produced within the hippocampus, a structure deep inside the brain that is involved in memory and emotion.

The scientists also found that more growth hormone is produced in females than in males, and more in adults. More growth hormone was also produced in response to estrogen. The study has implications for menopausal women using estrogen replacement therapy and for athletes taking growth hormone and anabolic steroids to increase muscle mass.

This could account for the sex ratio differences of Autism. Men and women have different responses to higher levels of estrogen when it comes to production of growth hormone. The female is already adapted to lower response to growth hormone and already has a higher level. Men are more sensitive to it and raising the level has a large impact.

While the rest of the article is rather fascinating in many ways, it is the connection to estrogen that I find interesting. Bisphenol-A and several other environmental contaminants are “estrogen analogs”. A web search on estrogen analog contamination returns too many connections to follow in one posting… Everything from landfill drainage into drinking water to plastic mineral water bottles.

What matters here is simply this: The brain is highly sensitive to growth hormone. It produces it in response to several kinds of stimulus (including various kinds of stress) and in response to hormones ( one of the interesting bits in the article is how women and men respond differently with growth hormone production in response to stress due to hormonal differences). So what happens when a load of “estrogen analog” is in your developing brain and you are subjected to “stress”? Perhaps stress of various kinds, from bad vaccination reactions to a diet poor in the needed Omega-3 fatty acids?

Abstract: The present invention provides a method of increasing neural stem cell numbers by using growth hormone and/or IGF-1. The method can be practiced in vivo to obtain more neural stem cells in situ, which can in turn produce more neurons or glial cells to compensate for lost or dysfunctional neural cells. The method can also be practiced in vitro to produce a large number of neural stem cells in culture. The cultured stem cells can be used, for example, for transplantation treatment of patients or animals suffering from neurodegenerative diseases or condition

Perhaps too much growth hormone in the brain can lead to too many neural stem cells and too many neurons?

In Conclusion

So that is where this line ends (or pauses).

We have a known tendency to push the Omega-3 and Essential Fatty Acid ratios ‘crazy way low’ and raise the Omega-6 ratios in the USA with “grain fed” everything and low fish consumption (and more of that fish coming from farmed fish fed on grains…). Israel has a nice Mediterranean coast and is not blessed with excess fresh water for fish farming on grains. The EFAs are important to the ‘brain shaping’ step of apoptosis.

We have a known tendency to pop antidepressants in the USA ( I vaguely remember some statistic like 1/3 of the population at any one time, but don’t feel like searching a reference to get it right…). Antidepressants that are accused of causing autism in some and cranial growth defects too. What is the relative usage in Israel?

We have a known large number of “estrogen analogs” as environmental and food contaminants in the USA. Especially in plastics. Folks in the USA do a LOT of microwaved foods in plastics. We use a lot of plastic dishes and plastic baby bottles. So much that estrogen analogs are showing up in surface water contaminations. These estrogens are involved in control of growth hormone. Milk is often produces with BST, another growth hormone. Growth hormone is produced in the brain in response to stress. We are deliberately exposing infants to significant stress via multiple vaccinations and dietary shortage of just those fatty acids needed by brain cells. What is the prevalence of environmental ‘estrogen analogs’ in Israel? What is the exposure to environmental ‘growth hormone’ and estrogen analogs?

My thought is just that we have a system where things are fine, and perhaps even better, with small added amounts of estrogen analogs in the environment and modest stress to the infant. Larger brains of a functional sort. Then we have a ‘cross over’ to too much. At that point, we get a brain that can not ‘wire up’ correctly. Too many neurons that are unable to reach across to the places they need to connect. At the margin, adding a sudden stress can push a growing brain ‘over the edge’, but the exact stress may be semi-random and the impact of any given stress will be strongly dependent on the environmental exposure of the given cohort of infants.

Basically, a mercury containing vaccination or a huge number of vaccination in a developing infant brain may cause a burst of growth hormone, that will only be a major issue if their were the needed precursor events. Perhaps anti-depressant exposure during pregnancy or nursing. Perhaps estrogen analogs in the environment (in the mother or in the microwaved plastic foods…). So we get the sporadic ‘anecdotal story’ of a ‘normal’ kid given injections and then ‘becoming autistic’. Potentially all exacerbated by low dietary levels of the needed Omega-3 and Essential Fatty Acids.

Testing any one factor in isolation will find that “it is not causal”. Yet all of them act in the same way on the same organ. Pushing the growing brain into stress induced overgrowth.

So that’s my thesis, and the direction I think will be most productive for figuring out what causes Autism and how best to use the Israeli low levels vs USA high levels to sort out which bits of the thesis are most supported.

As I look at my family, I see that I’ve had a tendency to avoid the microwave and cook traditionally on the stove. We don’t do much with plastic in the microwave ( I like ceramics ;-) and we used glass baby bottles. There are some pre-packaged frozen foods, but mostly it’s whole vegetables in plastic bags that get dumped into ceramic for heating. Some burritos and similar that get placed on ceramic plates for warming. Some pot stickers similarly done. Very little from the ‘microwave in a pouch’ or ‘heat in a package’ foods. Beverages rarely come from plastic bottles. Milk never with BST in it. Lots of Omega-3 sources, and a move away from Omega-6 oils. Plenty of the EFA and saturated fats that the growing brain needs. Nearly no trans fats. My kids got MMR and similar vaccinations (though I think we delayed it by a couple of months as we talked it over) and both are in the ‘very smart’ and normal range.

We have a genetic tendency to “large heads” (as evidenced by family pictures going back a long ways and our need for very large hat sizes ;-) and both were C-section. I’ll leave it for others to decide if this is due to large brains or lots of bone ;-) It does leave me wondering to what extent a genetic component might be involved. If we are of the sort that already makes a large amount of growth hormone in the brain, might it be easier to ‘tip us over the edge’ with environmental influences? Could my generally traditional and slightly paranoid approach to food and environmental contaminants have been what stood between my family and “geek disease”? (There are so many bright silicon valley types with an autistic kid that it’s been called ‘geek disease’ by some locally.. what you get when two geeks mate… Perhaps it is more that folks naturally blessed with brain growth are easier to ‘push over the edge’ with environmentals…)

That’s the ruminations for today. Yes, it’s all speculative; but it ‘fits the known patterns’. I’d also guess that the folks in Israel have much more traditional food preparation, closer to natural ingredients, and far removed from microwaved plastic retorts of preprocessed packages where bisphenol-A can be heat migrated into the food. With more lamb and natural cheese and less corn oil and soymeal fillers (with the soy estrogen analogs). Less grain fed “everything” and more fish from the sea and lamb fed on grasses. If nothing else, I can see an easy way to ‘check that’ via looking at Italians from that northern area with longevity and lots of lamb and sheep milk cheeses, very little ‘plastic food’. What is their rate of autistic kids? I’d also look to do a study on other ‘primitive’ societies. Are folks removed from the “modern world” of plastics and grain fed industrial food production also showing low rates of autism? Folks who don’t get a little ‘medical help’ with their depression via a pill? It ought to be pretty easy to study.

And if the multi-factor thesis is correct, the ‘fix’ would be easy too: disrupt ANY of the factors…

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About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
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39 Responses to Autism Brain Growth Hormone Analog?

  1. Another Ian says:

    E.M. Read this potential entry for “biggest horror story of the day”! Seems one needs to explore carefully in the health field –

    See Coyote Blog on “Positive result bias” – still won’t let me paste the link.

    While you’re there check out the U of Rochester items – the solar table and the next one.

  2. hillrj says:

    EM. Jerry Pournelle (Chaos Manor) has several times mentioned the difference between the Sephardic and Ashkenasic branches of Judaism. I think he believes that the A- types are exceptional both in intelligence and autistic spectrum disorders whereas the S-types match the general population in the USA. It would be interesting to know the A vs S breakdown of Israeli population.

  3. p.g.sharrow says:

    Interesting that Autistic brains have extra neurons and connections. I speculated that fact many years ago but had not come across that as a fact. It does cause for sensory overload, I have a real problem with crowds and too much sounds. No loud movies or concerts, or big parties. On the other hand even at 65 I can learn new things and unlearn incorrect ones as well as I did when I was young. My sight and hearing is improving with age, but pain from everything is getting worse. Oh well, win a few and lose some. Maybe the extra cells and wiring is a good thing if not overdone. As well as my parents just kicked me outside and gave me extra chores to do to keep me busy. pg

  4. E.M.Smith says:

    @Another Ian:

    I hope you are not attempting to put html tags around the links. For wordpress, you just copy the link and it does the html wrapper.

    I presume you mean this link:

    Yes, very startling, putting in one result because it made the best ‘story’.


    says there are 5.5 Million Jews in Israel while

    estimates the Ashkenazi number in Israel at 2.8 to 4 million

    So about 1/2 to 4/5 of the Jews of Israel.

    Some ‘web-foo’ didn’t return much that indicated any known prevalence bias for autism in Jews of any particular sort (though I did find a Stanford article looking for Ashkenazim to participate in a genetic study of autism that claimed there was no known bias in rates in Jews.

    has a discussion of the thesis that Ashkenazim might have more ASD, and cites Einstein as a guy with Asperger’s from the Ashkenazi population. ( He also had more neurons and of a smaller size each in his brain, so fits the ‘overgrowth of neurons’ thesis, but on the ‘benefit’ side…)

    The general trend of discussion articles was the idea that Ahkenazi might have more ASD, not less, which would make the very low ASD rates in Israel all the more interesting.

    @P.G. Sharrow:

    They say you lose brain cells with drinking too much and getting old. That implies I’m getting more normal every day ;-)

    But seriously, I am becoming more tolerant of crowds, noisy places, etc. Still don’t like loud concerts and strong flashing lights, but I don’t immediately have to run for the exit… (though I do put in ear plugs).

    The general thesis seems to be that some hypertrophy gives more brain and more function (and only a little compulsive focus) while too much prevents proper formation of connections between areas eventually leading to a full on ‘sit in the corner and bang your head’. We are on the winning side of that effect, Rainman was a neuron too far…

    Odd that you mention still learning new things being easy. Is for me, too. In fact, it’s almost a compulsion (not that anyone here would have noticed ;-)

  5. Another Ian says:


    Yep, that’s the one

    No tags. Example –

    I just did a copy of your http at the top line as I view this

    When I try to post that on a right click I don’t get to see the window that goes

    down to
    Select all”

    I get an IE window (IE 8 updated), and the post window does strange things with spaces etc and collapses the expanded window so I have to arrow down. And shift does odd things and eventually collapses the post window.

    Works OK on another WordPress site

  6. adolfogiurfa says:

    @E.M.: A not usually considered issue is that the drugs you mention are highly addictive, as much as marketing perhaps wishes. Don´t forget the pharmaceutical industry is the biggest…
    Are we already being given our daily “Soma” by the world self designated “Alphas” of the New World Order (“Brave New World”) ? (I can´t forget watching an old lady, not having a prescription, supplicating the pharmacist to sell her an antidepressant).

  7. Pascvaks says:

    Not aware of any devine updates to the ‘ancient’ Jewish prohibitions regarding ‘clean’ and ‘unclean’, ‘permitted’, and ‘prohibited’ everything. It’s been a long time since I even thought of looking at that part of the ‘Does and Don’ts’. Think maybe it’s time for more ‘tests’? Now, if we have to ‘fall back’ several thousand years and return to our caveman roots, I’m sure the old rules will be fine and dandy; but, in this day and age, I’m convinced, as well, that we’ve transended Moses’ food code in the Good Book by leaps and bounds. Sure seems like Israel’s Orthodox PhD’s in Biology could do everyone on the planet a BIG service by updating Moses’ Old Food Chart for the new millenium of the current rather common acting era. (Can’t imagine the Muslims will help us out, the ‘bad’ ones seem to be bent of doing us all in; and the Hollywood Fallen seem to have reforged a new Golden Calf; so we’re at an impass, we either beg for Old Israel’s help or call it quits until the next Interglacial –if we make it ;-)

  8. adolfogiurfa says:

    @Pascvaks : It´s better “Not to innovate” instead of changing anything we do not understand.

  9. Pascvaks says:

    Very true. Alas, however, I have a little feeling that we ignore so much of what we actually already know, and are quite timid about, and fearful of, lawyers chasing us around a courtroom in hopes of gaining a little for themselves, in the here and now, that we have worked so hard to gain and have secretly stuffed between the mattress and the boxspring. And I’m just not to sure that we can trust some things that have gone untested for 100+ years. Margerine comes to mind. I know there are more. Ever eat real Philadelphia Scrapple? Now it seems that plastic-lined tin cans are fairly new, (and I grew up on the old kind) and 2+2=x (and x>3 and<5). I was being a tease (I think it's because I didn't grow up with a TV as a pacifier), but in every tease there is an element of cold, dark honesty too. Too much dogma can poison truth; and versa vicea, too much poison truth can make some pretty tasty dogma. (I can always tell when I need a nap, my fingers get real stupid;-) Adios!

  10. larrygeiger says:

    My very short exposure to food in Israel wasn’t that there was more lamb (beef seemed to be readily available also) or some of the other things that you mention, but just LOTS more veggies. They served salad and veggies for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Veggies all the time. Veggies stuffed in pitas and stuffed in bowls and stuffed in bread and veggies in veggies. More fruit also. Figs. Citrus. Lots of olives and olive oil. Almonds. Meat dishes, beef, lamb and fish were available, but not particularly out front as the main thing. Obviously not much standard American breakfast meats. Don’t know what the dressings in the serving bowls were but they were good.

  11. blueice2hotsea says:

    @ E.M.
    Well, I don’t know the answer, but I admire your cross-cultural investigation. If we want to understand humans in general, it’s best to not rely on parochial data.

  12. Kolenaty says:

    MrMr. Smith — Once again you have harvested an impressive range of research and then done such a good job of writing it up. can’t imagine how you can accomplish both of these within brief time periods. And I’ve spent a career in assessing people who were mostly pretty bright and capable. In retirement I have been able to address areas of special interest, with one of them being the puzzle of autism, so I was especially interested in your speculations and the findings that you unearthed. As to your main question as to why Israel apparently has such a low rate, I w wonder if Larry Geiger’s comment above might be worth taking seriously. However, whatever the relationship might be to diet it must have a lot of odd twists and turns, since some autistic children seem to have no symptoms whatsoever and then a point in early childhood make an abrupt shift so that they become withdrawn, avoid eye contact, etc. A microscopic study comparing brain slices from normals vs autistics

    Click to access 130-145.pdf

    indicated that the main culprit seemed to be a buildup of lipofuscin in the parts of the brain having to do with language and speech. Interestingly, lipofuscin is a marker for aging (eg, “liver spots” on the hands of the elderly), and conditions like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson”s, and adult macular degeneration. I have searched Google for additional microscopic studies and camre up dry — but then , I’m hardly an expert in the search area. Anyway, a replicative study would be a great help.

  13. RossCO says:

    Maybe the National service (for potential parents) has something to do with it.
    I do know my autistic daughter responds better to one on one discipline and order at school much better than the chaos at home.

  14. TIM CLARK says:

    Do the Israelis use PVC to distribute water as we do in this country? I had to use distilled water without PVC (stainless steel) to run my HPLC when doing plant hormone analysis or the Phthalates would cause problems.
    Products containing Phthalates
    Type 3 plastics
    Some but not all PVC formulations
    Adhesives and glues, agricultural adjuvants, building material, detergents and surfactants, modelling clay, waxes, paint pigments, printing inks and coatings.
    Soft plastic fishing lures, caulk, sex toys (jelly rubber).
    Another hormone disrupter (especially testosterone) similar health risks as BPA.
    Animal studies show reduced sperm counts and reproductive abnormalities
    Evidence of a link to cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and liver cancer in humans
    Manufacturing and incineration of phthalates releases dioxin
    known carcinogen and hormone disrupter
    Congress passed legislation in 2008 to ban six phthalates from cosmetics and toys because of research that indicates developmental and reproductive damage
    The endocrine system, also called the hormonal system, is one of the main systems for communicating, controlling and coordinating the body’s activities in mammals (Ying et al., 2004). It works with the nervous system to regulate essential body functions. These body functions include energy metabolism, reproduction, growth and development, osmoregulation and homeostasis. The endocrine system also regulates reproductive processes and skeletal development (Bornman et al., 2007; Burger and Moolman, 2006; Ying et al., 2004; Vogel, 2004).

    Endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) consist of many natural and synthetic organic compounds, but are mostly manmade products such as alkylphenols, alkylphenols-ethonylates, and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). Others include polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins, polychlorinated dibenzofurans, organochlor pesticides, dichlorodiphenyl, dichloroethylene, nonylphenols, steroid hormones and phthalates (Arditsoglou and Voutsa, 2008; Hjelmborg et al., 2006; Mauricio et al., 2006). EDCs are able to cause abnormalities in invertebrate, fish, avian, reptilian, and mammalian species (Arditsoglou and Voutsa, 2008; Ferraz et al., 2007; Hjelmborg et al., 2006; Mauricio et al., 2006; Moder et al., 2007; Peng et al., 2006).

    Read more:

  15. TIM CLARK says:

    I didn’t notice at first that Phthalates were in sex toys (jelly rubber).
    Anyone want to research that line of analysis ;~P ???

  16. DocMartyn says:

    I have been looking at growth effects of hormones and hormone mimetic’s, on B-cells from autistics and unaffected siblings. The paper is in draft form at the moment.
    Two points for you Cheifo.
    1) The numbers of Purkinjecells in autistics are down
    2) of all the hormone disruptors that human have added to the human food/water web, why not look for the ones that track the growth in ASD? The biggest source of synthetic steroids is from women’s urine, when they are taking oral contraceptives.

  17. Pascvaks says:

    @DocMartyn –
    Deodorants & Antiperspirants (and the various ‘improvements’ chemlabs have made to these items) trend along a similiar timeline I would think? It wasn’t until later in my life that I truly appreciated just how permeable skin can be. Patch anyone?

  18. DocMartyn says:

    “Deodorants & Antiperspirants (and the various ‘improvements’ chemlabs have made to these items) trend along a similiar timeline I would think?”

    Yup. So has the pesticide made from Chrysanthemums. So has clear homes. An increase in cat population, and an increase in the use of kitty-litter (Toxoplasmosis?). Lead-free paint. Microwave cooking (hence release of plasticizers).

    However, I would pin my money on Cosmopolitan magazine. In the old days you were told to eat for two, now you can maintain your figure. Calorific restriction during pregnancy and lactation (pushed as a weight reduction strategy) leads to mobilization of maternal fat, hence the targeting of lipid soluble toxins into the fetal/neonate brain.
    Maternal age and education are strongly correlated with ASD.

  19. p.g.sharrow says:

    @DocMartyn; “Maternal age and education are strongly correlated with ASD.”
    So very true, Human females create the best offspring in their late teens to late twenties. No matter what the “Modern Progressives” think should be best.
    The more I think of this education problem the more sure I am the collage should not be started until you are 25 years old and NOT straight out of high school. This would solve many problems in our society with the collage educated people and their children. For one thing the students would have a chance to get their heads on straight before professors could mess with their minds with philosophical crap and another is that the students would have some idea about where they have been and where they were going as well as who they are. They would also have some idea of the value of a dollar and the true cost of their education. This may bring an end to “basket weaving” classes and most liberal arts classes that can not lead to a useful job. To often collage is wasted time and money as many newly minted graduates discover. pg

  20. Kolenaty says:

    Mr. Smith — you might want to check the measure of autism you found for Israel against this 2010 Israeli newspaper article, which cites an autism rate of 3.5%. I came across this while checking for info about the incidence of iron overload among pregnant women in Israel — no data.

  21. adolfogiurfa says:

    @P.G.Sharrow: You speak from reason and from “common sense”, and it seems that the continuos preach of “alternative” principles and values to those which lead humanity through thousand of years has brainwashed a lot of people; the real purpose of these it is not what many of us could believe, as intended for the improvement of our lives and mankind, no, behind these there is neither a philosophy or an ideology, there is an AGENDA for maximizing markets and profits. We remember when, as an example, women remained at home rearing and properly educating their children; now the Agenda says that both, wife and husband must work, however if we equate at constant value US$ their incomes, both added do not reach what just the husband brought back home; thus you can see what the purpose is: to have two slaves instead of one worker, living an illusory happy life. Back in the 1960´s it was run an experiment in an underground installation, to test if it was possible to alter the biological rhythms in order to make workers work the closest to a 24 hours shift; it was unsuccessful…fortunately.
    This is just an example….Though it seems too late, the AGENDA, the UN´s AGENDA 21 keeps going on and those who are not convinced are bribed, and those who are neither convinced or bribed as treated as “skeptics”, as fools, as contradicting “science”, etc.,etc.

  22. p.g.sharrow says:

    @Adolfo; leaded humanity may be too heavy to move around, but I swear at times I feel as if all the iron in my blood has turned to lead in my posterior.
    As I recall in the early 60s young women were brainwashed that a career was the only way to have a fulfilling life and to be a housewife was to be an unappreciated drudge. Too bad, those that concentrated on home and family are much happier with their lives. pg

  23. NickS says:

    I think its a combination of Low Vitamin D and too much sugar consumption. Say 100 years ago Vitamin D intake (the sun) was high and people didn’t eat much processed sugar…

  24. Doug Proctor says:

    Is there less autism in Israel or is there less DIAGNOSIS of autism in Israel?

    Some time in the ’90s, they stopped identifying AIDS victims through tests, but through a subjective evaluation of a person having a number of a greater number of symptoms. The number of AIDS cases immediately jumped and, at the same time, the death rate of AIDS dropped. The cleanest conclusion is that they spread the net too wide, and many “AIDS” sufferers, including those on anti-retrovirals, are not actually infected with AIDS (the virus of which, we have to keep reminding ourselves, is not directly measurable, but only indirectly as a sensitizing agent for the test). In the case of autism, I expect that some or most of the discrepancy might be in diagnosis, not illness.

    Right now the medical news is that something foolish like 1 in 5 Americans has a “mental health” problem, an actual medical diagnosis. Really? Or just the cumulative effect of loose diagnoses?

    Einstein and Gates have, at times, been discussed as autistics. Okay … perhaps our race needs a few more, if mental health professionals wish the definition to be so inclusive.

  25. E.M.Smith says:

    @Doug Proctor:

    It is very important to keep clear the difference between Autism and “ASD” or “Autisitic Spectrum Disorder”. Folks like Gates and Einstein would likely be classed as “High Function Asperger’s Syndrome” and not Autism; but would be thought of as one far end of the ASD spectrum. Austistics typically do not function well at all (though there are exceptions). Asperger’s function well, but have specific characteristic behaviours ( “Little Professor” and high focus on tasks / demand for everything ‘just so’).

    So I’d assert we benefit from more folks ‘a little closer to high function Asperger’s Syndrome’, I’d also assert that we need as close to zero Autistics as we can get. In other words, we want to move the folks at the middle of the ASD curve out to 6 sigma in one direction, over to six sigma the other side of the mean….

    Since not everyone reads the “tips” pages, and folks may have subscribed to this posting, I’m duplicating some comments from that thread that deal with ASD, here:

    Pascvaks says:
    11 April 2012 at 4:39 pm (Edit)

    Ref. my last, regarding Childhood Obesity. (Not saying I found anything of note mind you, still in the ‘what the heck happened? phase’ AND I’m convinced there’s more than one smoking gun to account for the rise in Extra Heavy American Kids;-) To the extent that there was a ‘smoking gun’ in the diet of children in the material I linked above at the sixth chart — ’Childhood Obesity Epidemic’ at:

    I went looking for a ‘maybe’ connection and found something regarding Sugar-Free Sody Pop. FWIW, not only was everything you’ve all already said quite true, but there was a coincidental ‘change’ to point to. (I’m sure there are many more, and I still think the BIG BOYS were fooling around with various ‘additives’ as well;-( Anyway, Sugar-Free Sody-Pop and Time that looks similar to my link above. What a world!

    E.M.Smith says:
    11 April 2012 at 7:37 pm (Edit)


    The parenthesis are confusing WordPress. I’ve swapped them for percent-28 and percent-29 and it works.

    Per the content:

    Yup, sucking down the sodas. Each of those sodas full of various crap, but also in a can with a plastic liner with the noted plasticizers in it. So we’d need an A/B to sort out which was more likely the causal agent or was it something else. It also implies a look at what they drink in Israel might be of interest.

    Coincidence, correlation, causality?

    IMHO, the “key point” is the connection of brain hypertrophy with hormone analogs and those are not sugars (but could easily be a ‘trace’ contaminant in them or in the artificial sweeteners. As hormones can act at levels that look like ‘near zero’ it would not take much of a ‘side path’ in some synthesis process to produce something ‘bad’.

    Sidebar: Hey, my ‘.’ key is working on the laptop again! Oh Boy!!!….
    (Wonder if the ‘bit of crap’ fell out or just moved to some other key…)

    When I was a kit, we had soda from a soda machine, and we had lots of bottles (mostly returnable). Slowly that’s swapped to almost entirely cans as sales units. Beer moved that way too. Acid solvent in a plastic lined can with plasticizers that act as hormone analogs; what could possibly go wrong? /sarcoff>
    E.M.Smith says:
    11 April 2012 at 8:13 pm (Edit)

    Oh, and the bottled beverage industry has also gone to nearly universal use of plastic bottles instead of glass. Even foods like jam and peanut butter are going to plastic ‘jars’. As the quantity of food and drink in plastic has gone up, the ASD rate has risen. Hmm….

    Sure looks to me like more than enough to deserve an ‘investigation’.

    So, experimental approach:

    Two sets of lab rats, one fed food cooked in glass, the other fed food cooked in plastic (cans are cooked at 240 F or so to sterilize the contents). If there’s something in the plastic that gets into the food, the juvenile rats ought to show differential brain mass. Alternative: Take the known plasticizers and feed them to growing rats, then measure brain mass in their juvenile offspring fed a similar diet. Compare to a control group not feed plasticizers and other suspect compounds. Ought to take about 2 years to prove ( 1 year to get decent indications). Presuming the rat brain responds similarly to humans. One could also do brain slides to look at average neuron size and compute total neurons (that second factor…)

    Third test would be to give the developing infant rats a ‘stress’ mid development and see if that causes a hyperresponse in the brain development path. That would confirm the impact of a largely increased vaccination schedule as a ‘co-factor stressor’.

    All looks very easy to do, to me. Guess it starts with a literature search. “Rat plasticizer brain” ought to be interesting…

  26. E.M.Smith says:

    is a very interesting article. It finds an impact on rat brains from common plasticizer.

    oxicology. 2006 Oct 29;227(3):185-92. Epub 2006 Aug 1.

    A dose-response study following in utero and lactational exposure to di-(2-ethylhexyl)-phthalate (DEHP): non-monotonic dose-response and low dose effects on rat brain aromatase activity.
    Andrade AJ, Grande SW, Talsness CE, Grote K, Chahoud I.

    Charité University Medical School Berlin, Campus Benjamin Franklin, Institute of Clinical Pharmacology and Toxicology, Department of Toxicology, Garystrasse 5, 14195 Berlin, Germany.

    Di-(2-ethylhexyl)-phthalate (DEHP) is a commonly used plasticizer which can act as an endocrine disruptor. It has been suggested that in addition to its antiandrogenic effects, DEHP may interfere with estrogen metabolism through suppression of aromatase enzyme activity. This enzyme catalyzes the conversion of testosterone to estradiol and plays a critical role in brain sexual differentiation. We investigated the effects of two wide ranges of DEHP doses on brain aromatase activity of male and female rat offspring. Wistar rat dams were treated daily with DEHP and peanut oil (control) by gavage from gestation day 6 to lactation day 21 at doses of 0.015, 0.045, 0.135, 0.405 and 1.215mgDEHP/kgbodyweight(bw)/day (low doses) and at 5, 15, 45, 135 and 405mgDEHP/kgbw/day (high doses). Aromatase activity was determined in hypothalamic/preoptic area (HPOA) brain sections from male and female pups on postnatal days (PNDs) 1 and 22. In males on PND 1, aromatase activity was inhibited at low doses and increased at high doses resulting in a non-monotonic dose-response profile which resembled a J-shaped curve. Inhibition was statistically significant at 0.135 and 0.405mgDEHP/kg/day, while increased activity was observed at 15, 45 and 405mg/kg/day. In contrast to findings on PND 1, aromatase activity at weaning (PND 22) was more affected in females than in males. An increase in aromatase activity was observed at only one dose in males (0.405mg/kg/day) while an increase in activity was observed at all doses in the females except for 0.045 and 5mgDEHP/kg/day. Overall, these results indicate that males and females respond differently to DEHP not only in regard to the age at which effects are manifested, but also in the shape of the dose-response curve. To our knowledge, this is the first study to report biological effects of DEHP at doses that overlap with the estimated exposure of the general human population.

    As we are also having an unexplained long term drop in sperm counts (both in humans and in some species in the wild that might also be exposed via land fill runoff and plastic trash in streams) that connection to testosterone effects is also of interest.

    There’s many more found via the web search, but even just this one shows that the “crap in plastic” is having hormone analog effects and is doing ‘strange things’ to brains of rats.

    At this point the idea that “plastic everything” when it comes to food and drinks might be ‘evil’; is looking strong enough to just “avoid” and sort it out later.

    It also looks like a quick survey of relative consumption of plastic exposed foods and drink in Israel (or a different plastic in use there) would also be worth investigating.

  27. E.M.Smith says:

    Has another view on the same material. Higher impact on males (rather like the higher Autism rates) along with more exposure in young folks than older and various brain impairments at rates similar to human exposure. Also makes a connection to PVC (which raises the issue of more PVC plumbing in houses – that began about the same time ASD started ramping up… )

    From a “Smith” too ;-)

    Common plasticizer alters an important memory system in male rat brains.
    Sep 02, 2011

    Smith, CA, A MacDonald and MR Holahan. 2011. Acute exposure to di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate adversely impacts hippocampal development in the male rat. Neuroscience
    Synopsis by Steven Neese

    Male rats exposed to the plastic softener DEHP formed fewer cells and nerve connections in a memory-related region of their young brains, Canadian researchers report.

    So I could easily see a case where one exposure to one material causes some brain hypertrophy while the phthalate inhibits the wiring from spanning the gap. There may be a ‘two fer’ here with multiple causalities even inside the plasticizer exposure issue. Hypertrophy from the estrogen analogs (or other?) and then suppression of wiring ability from the phthalates. At some point those two are going to have crossover into “no go” land. Larger brains with more distance to reach, coupled with smaller neurons and a harder time ‘reaching’, eventually you get a failure to wire up correctly… Looks to me like a decent “fit” to what we know. Needs testing, somehow…

    An ingredient widely-used to soften plastic containers and toys changed brain development in growing male rats when exposure occurs during a sensitive phase. The same exposure did not affect female rats, report researchers in the journal Neuroscience.

    The animal study shows that the phthalate DEHP can disrupt the normal development of the hippocampus in young male rats by reducing the number of cells and nerve connections that form. The hippocampus is important to learning as it is involved in the formation of long-term memories. The rat hippocampus matures in the first few weeks after birth while in people, the hippocampus largely develops before birth during the third trimester.

    This is the first research to connect phthalate exposure at a critical time of development with these cell and nerve effects in the hippocampus. Although not measured in the study, the brain effects may result in impaired cognitive functioning and could result in significant behavioral changes throughout life. In people, disruptions in development of the hippocampus may result in poorer memory, which can impact learning ability and even IQ.

    DEHP is a phthalate added to hard plastics – mainly polyvinyl chloride (PVC) – to make them flexible. It is used to produce and manufacture soft plastics for a number of uses, including children’s toys, food storage containers and medical tubing and bags. Prior research shows that infants and children are more exposed than adults to these contaminants. Youngsters are more exposed because of their increased contact with DEHP-containing products and house dust and perhaps, because of their higher metabolic rate.

    In the study, researchers injected 16-day-old male and female rats – the prime development time for some regions of the rat hippocampus – with 10 milligrams per kilogram of DEHP for seven consecutive days. The dose is the lowest known to affect testosterone hormone production in male rats. Hippocampus tissue from treated and untreated rats was analyzed for cell and nerve development. The researchers compared exposed to unexposed rats and male to female rats.

    The region of the male rat hippocampus – a brain region called CA3 and strongly associated with memory – had fewer cells and less axonal connections between the nerve cells that were there. This loss in connections could results in improper or possibly disrupted communication between cells in the hippocampus.

    Female rats showed no developmental changes following DEHP exposure, an effect most likely related to the chemical’s anti-androgen hormone properties. The finding reveals a distinct difference in the toxic effects of this chemical between male and female rodents.

    These striking results are the first found in rats exposed while the hippocampus cells and nerves are developing. The effects could result in learning and behavior changes with age, although this was not measured in the study. The potential for human impacts will also need further study.

    Looks to me like we are developing a pretty good “zoo” of hormone analogs, hormone disruptors, and generally “screwing things up in the brain” impacts, demonstrated in lab tests, from common plasticizers at the exposure levels seen in humans.

    At this point, I’d have to say it’s time to simply avoid plastics as much as practical in contact with food, drinks, or bathing water. Kind of glad I’ve lived in old houses with iron pipes and generally like ceramic and glass containers for foods… I’ve also tended to stay away from soda pop (mostly drinking it ‘from a fountain’ at fast food places – so minimal plastic exposure). The spouse’s Mom always thought Coke tasted better from glass, so went out of her way to buy the ‘retro / decorative’ glass bottles. All in all, she had a low plastics exposure too.

    Asking the spouse about it, she reported that when one of her “special needs” families comes in, any infant typically has a plastic bottle of something to suck on… ( We used glass bottles just because I like glass more and didn’t like the idea of hot plastic next to milk…)

    Looks to me like the pattern is shaping up. “Plasticizers evil. Glass, Ceramic, and fresh foods good. Iron pipe or copper pipe good, PVC bad.”

    I’ll keep digging a bit at plasticizers and lab tests, but will likely hold any modest correlation stuff for a future posting. If anyone hits a ‘smoking gun’ paper, by all means post a summary…

  28. E.M.Smith says:

    Oh Dear. Right after I say I’ll hold any marginal connections, I run smack into one that’s too good to hold…


    Phthalate esters like n-butyl benzyl phthalate (BBP) are widely used plasticizers. BBP has shown
    endocrine-disrupting properties, thus having a potential effect on hormone-sensitive tissues. The aim of this study is to determine the effect of neonatal/prepubertal exposure (post-natal days 2–20) to BBP on maturation parameters and on the morphology, proliferative index and genomic signature of the rat mammary gland at different ages of development (21, 35, 50 and 100 days).

    Here we show that exposure to BBP increased the uterine weight/body weight ratio at 21 days and decreased the body weight at time of vaginal opening. BBP did not induce significant changes on the morphology of the mammary gland, but increased proliferative index in terminal end buds at 35 days and in lobules 1 at several ages. Moreover, BBP had an effect on the genomic profile of the mammary gland mainly at the end of the exposure (21 days), becoming less prominent thereafter. By this age a significant number of genes related to proliferation and differentiation, communication and signal transduction were up-regulated in the glands of the exposed animals.

    These results suggest that BBP has an effect in the gene expression profile of the mammary gland.

    Butyl benzyl phthalate (BBP) is a plasticizer commonly used in pipes, vinyl floor tiles, vinyl foams, and carpet backing, and to a minor extent, in cellulose plastics and polyurethane [1]. This compound has shown to be weakly estrogenic [2], and to induce adverse effects on the development of male reproductive system [3-5], thus acting as an endocrine disruptor.

    OK then. Need to look at kind of carpets they like in Israel too… but I’m pretty sure that “vinyl tile” is not on the preferred list and is likely more on the ‘tacky’ list… As PVC has already been shown to be carcinogenic, it’s looking like “tacky plastic” is just a bad idea all around. When I was a kid, we had some PVC based swim toys and air mattresses. I never liked the smell of it, so tended to avoid them, but many folks I knew were happy to have a load of vinyl plastic stuff in the kids rooms.

    Just saying…

    IIRC, there were even vinyl ‘chew toys’ made for infants….

  29. hillrj says:

    EM: I didnt notice any mention of “the snip” in the comments.
    In Australia, and I think in the USA, circumcsion of non-jewish boys was very common up until the 60’s.
    Is it possible that a little bit of flesh in a sensitive area can affect hormone levels?
    This would explain a difference between Israel and other countries.

  30. E.M.Smith says:


    Well, I was son of a Roman Catholic who had a Jewish Doctor who convinced the parents that I ought to have “the snip” (so I can convert to Jewish without pain ;-) while my son is un snipped due to my saying “WTF?”… Near as I can tell both of us are “High function Apsperger’s” due to genetics, not environment, so I think the “Snip Thesis” is, er, cut short… ;-)

  31. Hugo M says:


    I just skimmed through the Moral et al study. The first thing I always do is to check the method section. Do you find any indication how many animals have been involved? I don’t. Do they report actual litter sizes? Neither. But they do chop litters instead of accounting for the logarithmic relation between body weights and litter size, thus carrying over the prenatal distorsion caused by the widely varying number of offsprings. Said relation is known for almost a century (Enzmann E. and Crozier W, 1934, Relation between Birth Weight and Litter Size in Multiparous Mammals) and continues, as a consequence of concurrency and the limited metabolic rate of the dams, in a slightly different form up the day of weaning.

    But they do feel a need to report as their very first result that there would have been a “significant” difference of the uterine/body weight ratio at day 21. So, if the rest of their work was carried out as sloppy as this part, I would not trust much in their results. Not that their approach would be unusual …

    PS: Interestingly, there is even a seasonal difference in litter sizes, even though the animals were held in completely controlled conditions which nobody can explain.

  32. Pascvaks says:

    “Who goes, eats, etc. first?” The ageless question.

    “I know! We’ll get Mikey to try it!”
    Remember that commercial?

    Who will be the guinea pig? The timeless question we still ask today.
    I think, today, we’re NOT testing, waiting, and watching the mice, and the guinea pigs, and the Mikeys of the world as long as we should be and we’re paying the price. But then, I doubt that that is nothing new either. Imagine all the experimentation that must have taken place way back when, when our forbearers we’re trying to get the perfect mix for what we now call : Black-eyed Peas with Ham Hocks, Cornbread, and Collards. Just think of all the possible combinations, permutations, and killer mixes that they had to go through to get to where we are today. Wonder how many tried boiled Poison Ivy before they realized it just didn’t have the right flavor as Kudzu or something a little more subtle?

    We’re still experimenting on ourselves, it’s just that the BIG Guys think there’s so many of us stupid guinea pigs that they don’t have to let us in on all the ‘tests’ they’re running. (I do have a feeling that that too is the way it has always been;-) We ARE talking BIG SHELLS.. I mean MONEY. And somebody has to be first. Right? Haven’t we ALWAYS done it that way? The system does work, just look how far we’ve come in the past 6 million years!

    PS: It really pays to be the oldest child in a good sized family, if one of your brothers won’t step up to plate and try something NEW that you’re afraid to do, you can probably talk one of your sisters into doing it. It really pays to be the oldest and smartest in the bunch!

  33. E.M.Smith says:

    @DocMartyn: has the interesting snippet that toxics are related to problems:

    In humans, Purkinje cells are affected in a variety of diseases ranging from toxic exposure (alcohol, lithium), to autoimmune diseases and to genetic mutations

    That would tend to confirm the idea of a multicausal insult “issue” where there’s some total toxic load, coupled with a reduced / hormonally modified growth of them (perhaps as one part of the brain grows, the other doesn’t keep up?) so you get the ‘toxic / pseudo hormone’ connection and then have the “stress / toxic insult” kicker that shoves them over some edge.

    So take the load of plasticizers (some of which are also phthalates) and all the other environmental load of things from pesticides to phthalates in water pipes to… and it adds to enough to be an issue in the most sensitive part of the population. As the load increases, the percentage of population hit goes up. FWIW, some of this stuff is used in cosmetics, too. When I was a kid, my sisters were forbidden to use cosmetics until well out of high school, now you have 8 year old kids doing gobs of makeup…

    Add to a higher load, the ‘purging’ via body fat mobilizing… Hmmm….

    As I’m prone to allergies, I talked the spouse into not doing make-up. We’ve got two very bright and fully functional kids. Despite both having a family history of “big heads”… (even without toxic exposure – back on the farm days…)

    Also found a reference on the plasticizers and phthalates that said the “new car smell” was the odor of that stuff and that in the summer when you get haze on the windows, it’s from the condensed plasticizer. That would imply that my habit of buy old cars with cloth or leather upholstery could also be helpful… Wonder if there are any cyclings with new car sales rates…

    That ‘dip’ in the German numbers, that was just a couple of years after the Dot.Com implosion during the 1999-2000 period. Hmmmm……

    Do you know if the synthetic hormones in birth control pills gets stuck in body fat? If it is not the same as the natural hormone, it might have a differential impact on developing brain cells not seen in adult women…


    The article you linked has an UPDATE:

    UPDATE: This article was written carelessly… 3.5% was the rate of IVF in the general population… NOT autism. It should read: “a significantly higher number than the 3.5% IVF rate in the general Israeli population.” Thanks Michelle.

    So looks like they found higher autism in IVF (in vitro fertilization) kids than the general population, but not that the general autism rate was high.

    Per “absorb and synthesize” it’s “just what I do”. I’ll soak up ‘background’ on something for years some times then it hits a critical mass and some ‘web-foo’ time pulls it together into a ‘knowing’ and it’s just done. Sometimes the ‘background soak’ happens in one long episode (like a ‘coding frenzy’ for programming, but instead a ‘find and read’ frenzy) over a weekend or even just one day. Depends on the depth needed to ‘get it’.

    So I get “on a kick” about something and either everything I read over years ‘just sticks’ or I do a reading frenzy. Eventually I’ll ‘move on’ to something else and that topic will just sit. Like how to make vacuum tubes. I know a lot about vacuum tubes, but nothing new in the last few decades. But if you want to talk beam triodes ;-)


    Sent you my contact info.

    BTW, my high school chem teacher, who was the smartest and most centered teacher I ever met (and a retired Lt. Colonel Air Force W.W.II) would opine that ALL school ought to be held off until about age 10, since before that you didn’t learn much anyway and after that age you could learn the first 5 years worth of stuff in a few months… and would be far more focused…

    Put the two ideas together, you have “first school” from 10 to 18, then college from 25 to 30. Sounds like a good idea to me…


    I think you can do a fairly good job with just saying “what was forbidden is still forbidden, plus anything invented as a chemical after biblical times.” Would explain my Amish ancestors who have variable autism rates depending somewhat on how ‘modern’ they are. (Some of them allow margarine and drinks in plastic bottles, etc. Others still live traditional farm life.)

    Thus you get various Amish autism studies that find low rates in one study and “population near match” rates in another. Then they squabble over who’s study was done right instead of looking at what was different about the two populations… Sigh.

    And yes, I remember the commercial ;-)


    Low Vit-D causes SAD – and you would have high rates in nordic countries (as with SAD rates) if it were causal. Though I could see a potential connection with low rates as a co-factor in poor developmental growth. Wonder if there are any endocrine disrupters in the sun screen folks slather on their kids these days? Low Vit-D and higher toxics? Hmmm….

    @Tim Clark:

    Don’t know what they use to move water around, but I’d wager they have a lot less plastic in land fills putting plasticizer leachate into the water supply… Wonder what the Israeli water treatment process is like? And their waste disposal rules…


    I suspect it’s something to do with the vegetables AND that I’d bet more of them are fresh, not canned and packaged… A lot less ‘crap contact’ and a lot more “grown clean and served fresh”.


    One of my frequent complaints is the push to global uniformity. It’s just a very bad idea. Like forcing universal vaccination. If you get one truly horrific Aw Shit there’s nobody left to recover from it. And little compare and contrast to figure out the small ‘aw shits’.

    So many cultures helps the world survive and looking to many disciplines helps to find answers.


    I suppose one could do a quick check of rates in Muslim vs Western countries to see if ‘wife at home’ makes a difference….

  34. E.M.Smith says:

    Found an interesting link about Israeli plastics production:

    It is rising fast.

    Plastics and Rubber Products in Israel

    During the last decade, the Israeli consumption of plastics and rubber products per capita has risen by 218%, from about 50 Kg. per capita in 1990 to 109 Kg. in 1999. These numbers account for local and imported products taken together. Israeli imports of plastics and rubber products have totaled in 1999 about $ million 570.

    The Sales Volume of the Israeli Plastics and Rubber Industry

    The sales of the Israeli plastics and rubber industry have also scored an impressive growth during the last decade – from $ billion 1.6 in 1990 to $ billion 2.75 in 1999, a total rise of 150%.

    This growth was achieved in spite of the economic recession that afflicted the Israeli economy for the last three years and other global economic afflictions such as the monetary crisis in the Far East and stagnation symptoms in Europe and the United States.

    Indeed, the sales volume of the Israeli plastics and rubber industry declined by 1.6% in 1997 and by 9% in 1998, but in 1999 the industry growth resumed with vengence and the sales figures rose by close to 13%. The Israeli plastics and rubber industry sold in 1999 $ billion 2.75 worth of products, of which $ billion 1.035 worth of products were earmarked for export.

    Says that the USA level of waste plastics alone is about 200 lbs or 100 kg per person.

    Plastics play an important role in almost every aspect of our lives. Plastics are used to manufacture everyday products such as beverage containers, toys, and furniture. The widespread use of plastics demands proper end of life management. Plastics make up more than 12 percent of the municipal solid waste stream, a dramatic increase from 1960, when plastics were less than one percent of the waste stream. The largest category of plastics are found in containers and packaging (e.g., soft drink bottles, lids, shampoo bottles),

    That ramp up from less than 1% to over 12% of the trash pretty much runs in parallel with the ramp in ASD. Yes, it’s only a correlation. But… If Israel starts to ramp up to match the rest of the world in keeping with their increasing plastics consumption…

    Recent land fills have required much better handling of runoff and leachate, so one ‘dig here’ would be the type of waste disposal practices in Israel. If they have all modern and no leachate making it into drinking water, that might also make a difference. Recycling rates will also be important ( low in the USA per that page).

    This also implies it might be of worth to look for other countries with low ‘modernity’ and low levels of consumption of plastic packaging. If the Russian rates start to rise about the time that Pepski Cola was approved… Or if Egyptian rates modulate with economic class (poor folks live on traditional bread and vegetables and can not afford western ‘luxuries’…)

    At any rate, what I’m seeing is still consistent with the ‘plasticizers as co-factor’ thesis. (Though not definitive and there are other possibles to search…)

    also points out some significant problems with getting ‘kosher canned goods’, so that would argue for a lower level of consumption of canned goods, especially among the most orthodox or when in doubt. It would argue for a larger consumption of fresh and frozen vegetables and less canned goods.

    How then, are we kosher consumers affected by this remarkable process of canning? Can we rely on the fact that all canned fruits and vegetables can be assumed to be kosher? After all, if the process is simply heating and vacuum sealing the product, what could be Halachically problematic for the Kosher consumer with canned fruits or vegetables? Many Kosher consumers have noticed that most recently, many canned vegetables have come under kosher supervision, displaying the kosher symbol on the label. This is not an unnecessary turn of events. According to Rav Zushe Yosel Blech, an authority in matters of Kashrus, there, in fact is a great need today for a reliable Hashgacha on canned vegetables. This need is based upon the fact that while most vegetables grown (outside of Israel) are inherently kosher, they are often processed on equipment that may also be used for non-kosher items. Rabbi Tzvi Rosen, of the Star K emphasizes this point as well by alerting us to the fact that there are certain canning machines today that can cook over 25,000 cans at one time when filled to capacity. One such machine is a Hydrostatic Retort. This machine is a six story building containing rotating shelves that cook many cans simultaneously. Years ago, when companies used smaller canning facilities, these facilities were used only for certain vegetables in their particular season and were then shut down for the rest of the year. Today, more companies find systems like that to be inefficient for their needs and economically unsound. Therefore, many of them have discovered uses for these plants even during the off season times. Some plants process non-kosher soups and sauces in these plants. It is also not unusual to have a couple of different types of foods “retorting” at once in the same cooker. In addition, Rabbi Rosen explains that many companies may also utilize the process called “dry pack” today. Dry pack canning (often beans) can have an independent production life and can be used to fill in on rainy days during a harvest season (when regular canning is more difficult). Unfortunately, because of its versatility, dry packing can become a real Kashrus problem. The fact is that often such American favorites as pork and beans and bacon and beans are produced at the same time and in the same equipment as a seemingly kosher product.. In such a situation, canning other (inherently kosher) vegetables at the same time or on the same equipment as the bacon and pork poses a most serious and obvious Kashrus problem. So that when a Kosher consumer chooses a can of corn or peas from the grocer’s shelf the question of what else was produced in that plant or what other product was “retorted” together with this seemingly innocent can of corn become a real concern. Also all bean products are produced by companies today that specialize in dry pack bean productions. There is a great likelihood, therefore that pork and bacon or other meat products are also being processed on that same equipment (dry packed). Therefore, the following bean products should be bought only with a reliable Hashgacha: canned lima beans, kidney beans, chick peas, garbanzo beans, great northern beans, black eyed beans, purple hull and navy beans. Because of these canning complications of late, many Kashrus organizations have adopted an inter-agency policy decision that only canned vegetables (including corn and peas etc.) that have a reliable Hashgacha will be approved for use for the kosher consumer. This general rule also applies to canned tomato products, as it has smiliar Kashrus complications and problems (often canned together with clam juice or meat and cheese flavored pizza sauces etc.)

    Note, in particular, that only recently have many canned goods gotten the Kosher brand on them. Strict observant Jews will have avoided anything not so labeled in prior years. (or been ‘reluctant’ and consumed only small amounts as long as an alternative was available).

    It looks to me like the historical data here argues for a lower plasticizer exposure in Israel until fairly recently. It would be fairly easy to do an assay of plasticizer in the citizens of Israel and confirm if there was a lower general level.

    As a slightly amusing sidebar, it turns out that phthalate plasticizer is so pervasive that while it WAS used to test for ‘blood doping’ (as it soaked into the blood from the plastic bags) that test has been dropped as unreliable… due to so many OTHER sources… Not Good…

    Israel reports:

    Some experts — and Contador — say that these chemical residues are widespread so there is a lot of doubt about how they got into an athlete’s body. But others say that spikes of these chemicals, at levels much higher than normal, are a red flag for doping. Due to the controversy, funding for the test to detect these chemicals was discontinued in November 2011.

    Israel writes that Contador plans to appeal the ruling because “widespread use of plasticizers in the environment has clouded the testing efforts of the sport’s doping police.”

    The plasticizer under scrutiny related to doping is called bis(2-ethylhexyl)phthalate, or DEHP. The class of chemicals can “mimic estrogen or disrupt testosterone,” Israel writes.

    How ubiquitous is DEHP? Israel spoke with Shanna Swan, a reproductive epidemiologist at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York, who has studied the effects of phthalates on infant boys. She said that “ninety-eight percent of people in the U.S.A. have measurable levels.”

    DEHP is found in numerous sources — from IV blood bags to food. Joe Braun, an epidemiologist at Harvard University, told Israel that the largest source of DEHP exposure is food, which leaches from some plastic food wraps and containers.

    OK, so we’ve got one population that has historically been very picky about food and generally avoided foods not known to meet specific rules that are most easily met with fresh foods not packaged (as the packaged stuff has no information about machinery on which it was processed). They have low ASD.

    We have another population eating loads of stuff from plastic wraps. So much that we’ve pretty much all got a known endocrine disruptor in our systems to the point where testing for it can not be used to reliably find folks using a known source of high contamination.

    Looks to me like it’s a strengthening hypothesis…

    It would be very interesting to do a retrospective study on maternal transfusions and rates of ASD. Even if the rate of increase is small, any increase would be interesting.

    There may also be an existing body of data on sports figures and their pasticizer levels that could be used in a retrospective study of their kids rates of ASD.

    I think this thesis ‘has legs’…

  35. E.M.Smith says:

    Has a very interesting study of phthalate exposure and birth outcomes.

    Some of the phthalates are correlated to variable head circumference. As the skull size is determined by the brain growth, it looks to me like we have an indicator of brain growth.

    However, in boys, BP3 predicted higher birth weight for prenatal exposure to this sunscreen agent (Figure 1). Because racial/ethnic exposures to BP3 differed, we examined the models separately for nonwhites (n = 269) and for Hispanics (n = 168); in both groups, the trends were similar to those among all women, with the third tertile of maternal BP3 associated with heavier boys and lighter girls. The number of white mothers (n = 66) was too small to examine separately. Effects of both 2,5-DCP and TCS on birth length were similar to findings on birth weight, such that boys were approximately 0.3 cm shorter (95% CI, −0.6 to −0.4 cm) per ln-2,5-DCP
    Low-MWP metabolites were positively associated with head circumference (β = 0.13 cm; 95% CI, 0.01–0.24 cm) and gestational age (β = 0.14 week; 95% CI, 0.01–0.27 week, per ln-unit increase biomarker level, adjusting for race, infant sex, ln-creatinine, maternal education, marital status, and prepregnancy BMI;
    Environmental sources of phenols and their precursors include personal care and home cleaning products. 1,4-DCB is used in mothballs and in room deodorizers; it is metabolized to 2,5-DCP. The high correlation of 2,4-DCP with 2,5-DCP suggests that 2,4-DCP is a metabolite of 1,3-dichloro-benzene, a minor contaminant of 1,4-DCB (National Toxicology Program 2005). TCS is a microbicide, and BP3 exposure comes mainly from sunscreen. Environmental sources of phthalates are numerous. MEP and MBP are found in cosmetics, shampoo, perfume, and products with fragrance. The higher-molecular-weight phthalates, including DEHP and butylbenzylphthalate, are found in soft plastics, vinyl wrap, plastic tubing, and home construction components such as vinyl floor tile.
    Phenols and 1,4-DCB are hormonally active in vitro, where bioassays have shown weak to modest estrogenicity (Fang et al. 2000). At doses above 1 μM, environmental phenolic residues exhibited both estrogenic and antiandrogenic potential (Paris et al. 2002). 1,4-DCB is likely to be a tumor promoter (Holmes and Rainsford 2001), signifying its potential hormonal activity. TCS is antiandrogenic (Chen et al. 2007). BP3 and its analog, benzophenone-2, are estrogenic (Ogawa et al. 2006; Seidlova-Wuttke et al. 2005), and benzophenone-2 is thought to cause hypospadias in mice through this mechanism (Hsieh et al. 2007).
    In contrast to our hypothesis of an inverse effect of phthalate exposure on birth size and gestation, we found a positive association of low-MWP biomarkers with duration of pregnancy and infant head circumference.
    The exposures we studied are relatively prevalent, and some biomarker levels approach those with significant effects in experimental models. In a healthy cohort such as ours, effects of hormonally active environmental exposures on birth size may be small, yet more sensitive end points such as infant neurologic development may be affected. A further dimension to consider in future research is multiple exposures of hormonally active agents such as these. In terms of prevention, exposure to these chemicals can be avoided if the product contents are known; unfortunately, they often are not listed on the label because they are not “active” ingredients.

    So, looks to me like we can add the increased use of sunscreens and room deodorizers to the list of suspect exposure sources.

    It also looks like the head circumference issue is about as close to a sex differentiated smoking gun as one is likely to get.

  36. E.M.Smith says:

    Hmmm… I was reaching the point where it looked like Sunscreen was clearly causing a larger cranial size and seeing that as the source of a hormone analog that could be causal and then ran into an interesting article with an entirely different effect from sun screens (and a low fat diet).

    At this point we have two lines leading ot the same place, but with different mechanisms (or perhaps 2 halves of the total mechanism?)

    A very well written and well reasoned article that basically asserts it is the consequence of a low fat diet mixed with abnormally low vitamin D levels due to both indoctrination and sun avoidance. She sites some interesting differential race statistics too with specific sub populations that emigrated to less sunny locations.

    At this point, I’m of the opinion that “both” is the correct answer. On the one hand, the plasticizers are acting as hormone analogs and causing some of the issues. On the other hand, the vit-D deficit and faulty fat metabolism completes the process. She also points to a particular brain development step at about age 2 and how the particular metabolic issues would cause it to fail. I think it’s reasonably explanatory. Just add to it a bit of brain hypertrophy and a differential response via the estrogenic effects and you have a fairly complete package.

    Her thesis is also pretty easy to check. Compare sun exposure and fat intake histories with autism rates. (There is a bit of that in her reference to Eskimo with a zero autism rate).

    Back to the Israel connection: I know from my Jewish relatives ‘back east’ that a low fat diet is not what they eat… Add that Israel has a pretty good sun exposure and her thesis would also match the Israel anomaly.

    At any rate, it’s a decent read.

    She also has a very interesting article on the bad effects of statin drugs:

    A bit thick on the biochem, but ought to still be a decent read even if you don’t know what an ATP is or a Kreb’s Cycle…

  37. Pascvaks says:

    Somewhat O/T-
    My Better Half and I watched “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy” last night, I hadn’t made the connection to the novel of the 70’s (but knew it sounded familar;-) until the credits started at the beginning and I squinted to see the author. I thought it was John le Carré, and sho-nuf it was. After reading EM’s last comments, and my mind still being in the Evil Empire days, I thought to myself, “Self, this DEHP sure would make a fantastic novel; like The Andromeda Strain or even Harry Potter (no joke, after Harry, the Old Kids who grew up with him have got to be looking for something with real teeth to read).” Then I thought, “Self, what would happen if there was really a terrible connection between DEHP and a number of present day health issues, and a lot of people got P.O.ed?” You know, people are really funny but they’re also mighty strange, and they get wildly psycho when there’s a mob of them with an issue and they’re looking for someone to ‘blame’ and hang from the nearest telephone pole.

    Civilization is an illusion of light and shadow, a casual agreement between savages, when you get people drunk or stoned on some chemical soup concoction, you’re really playing with some dangerous fire. Imagine the idiots who think they’re soooooo smart that they can get away with it, make a bundle, and sneak away to a tropical island and live forever in paradise, all at the expense of a bunch of stupid cavemen, and their wives and children, think they’re soooooo smart. Remember, civilization is an illusion. Someone’s playing with fire. More than a few someones.

    And, it would make a Great Book, and some might even say a prophetic one too.

  38. E.M.Smith says:


    One could even make a decent plot line out of a world dominating evil that wanted to reduce the global population by a few billion finding that adding an anti-androgenic compound that caused more sterility and less masculinity was just what it wanted…. But I’m sure that would never happen. It would be wrong….

  39. Pascvaks says:

    Maybe if one were to turn it around a little and make it “a world dominating good that wanted to reduce the global population by a few billion finding that adding an androgenic compound that caused less verility and more femininity…” But I’m sure that would never sell either. It has to be outlandish, extrodinary, really SciFi!! People don’t pay Big Bucks to watch yesterday’s news. Going back to your comment: “It would be wrong…”, what could we make in Hollywood that would be sooooooo WRONG it would be perfect?

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