(NaturalHealth365) Studies have linked hormone disorders from both maternal and paternal smoking to the ever increasing prevalence of autism. This has prompted many researchers to question whether smoking is directly causing autism and in 2012, Environmental Health Perspectives published a report stating that women who smoke during pregnancy are more likely to have a child with high-functioning autism such as Asperger’s Disorder.
Why does smoking feed the autism epidemic?
The researchers noted that this study may underestimate the true prevalence of autism spectrum disorders among mothers who smoke because lower-income kids are not often identified as having autism, and lower-income mothers are more likely to smoke during pregnancy.
Then, in February of 2013, Environmental Health Perspectives did a follow up to discover why smoking is linked with certain types of autism. They looked at previous literature to find a common thread between smoking and autism and discovered that this link was testosterone.
Back in 2002, researchers linked elevated intra-uterine levels of testosterone with autism and research, conducted in February of 2013, suggests that maternal smoking is positively associated with increased levels of intra-uterine testosterone.
This recent research discussed the milder forms of autism that have spiked in recent years and these scientists state that the recent reported increase in autism is due to environmental, not genetic, factors.
How is excess testosterone linked to autism?
A study published in Molecular Autism discussed the correlation between hormones and autism. Hormones perform critical functions from pregnancy to adolescence and beyond. They discussed evidence of prenatal exposure to fetal testosterone and the role it plays in the development of autism. They state that elevated testosterone is linked to reduced eye contact, slower language development, poorer quality of social relationships and narrower interests and reduced empathy.
Clinical Endocrinology also establishes a link between elevated testosterone and autism. Their study looked at the daughters of women who were diagnosed with hyperandrogenic (excessive production and/or secretion of androgens) polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). Researchers concluded that daughters of mothers affected by hyperandrogenic PCOS seem to have a higher risk for pervasive developmental disorders (PDDs) – probably due to an unbalanced prenatal exposure to high levels of testosterone.
Prenatal exposure to testosterone has been shown to affect fetal brain maturation as well as postnatal cognition and behavior in animals but it wasn’t until 2010 that this theory was studied in humans. 78 ten year old girls were followed to determine if prenatal testosterone levels (collected from the girls umbilical cords) impacted their pragmatic language skills – all these years later. Once again, fetal testosterone was a significant, positive predictor of pragmatic language difficulties in girls.
3 ways to reduce testosterone levels in women
Women naturally have about 10% the amount of testosterone as men. However, as women age, testosterone levels tend to increase. If you are concerned about your testosterone levels, your physician can perform tests to let you know if your testosterone levels are elevated. If they are, please discuss the following options with your practitioners:
1. DIM (Diindolylmethane) is a supplement made from broccoli and cauliflower and that is known to reduce male sex hormones. As a side note, DIM has been noted to help women with fibroids.
2. Spearmint tea was shown to significantly decrease free testosterone and increase luteinizing hormone, follicle-stimulating hormone and estradiol.
3. If you are overweight, losing as little as 7% of your weight can decrease testosterone levels. According to the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists, 55% to 65% of women with elevated testosterone levels are overweight.
About the author: Sima Ash of Healing 4 Soul is a clinical and classical homeopath and certified clinical nutritionist who utilizes a unique approach pioneered by Tinus Smits, M.D. called CEASE therapy. The aim of CEASE treatment is systematic detoxification of the causes of illness, leading to step by step improvement and restoration of health in the individual. For additional information, please visit – Healing4Soul.com. You can follow Sima on Facebook at ‘Cease Therapy California’ and through her weekly blog on NaturalHealth365.com
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