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Is autism aggravated by electromagnetic fields?

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If your child shows symptoms of autism--or if you want to prevent him from developing it in the first place--you may want to unplug the router, turn off your cell phone, and take the batteries out of your wireless security system. You may also want to consider moving to the wilderness as well--at least if Martha R. Herbert's speculations about the link between autism and exposure to electromagnetic fields are correct.

Martha Herbert is no tree-hugging loony tune. Herbert has a Ph.D. from the University of California, Santa Cruz, and a medical degree. She is an assistant professor of neurology at Harvard Medical School, a pediatric neurologist at the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, affiliated with the Center for Child and Adolescent Development of Cambridge Health Alliance and a member of the Harvard MIT MGH Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging.

In June of 2013, she published an article in the peer-reviewed journal Pathophysiology. According to the abstract, her research has found that children with autism show underlying biological dysfunctions that are very similar to the physiological impacts found upon exposure to electromagnetic fields. In a later article, she explores how these biological changes can alter behavior.

Note that Professor Herbert is not saying that wireless radiation or other types of electromagnetic fields (EMFs) are the only cause of autism; rather, she is saying that EMFs are one factor among many that contributes to the development of this condition. Other factors are alterations in the digestive system, genetics, and autoimmune problems. Other research points to the role of acetaminophen, the active ingredient in Tylenol, as a contributing factor.

She has an optimistic message. Autistic kids do NOT have brain damage. Rather, their brains are irritated--and this irritation can be fixed with the right diet and lifestyle. If you are the parent of a child with autism, there is hope.

For an older, and more user-friendly article about the other causes of autism, you may want to read her 2006 interview in medicalveritas.com.

The take-home message is obvious: if you are pregnant, breast-feeding, or have a young child, unplug the router at night and minimize cell phone use. These are cost-free measures that do no harm--and if Herbert is correct, they may do a lot of good.

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