Genes Load the Gun, the Environment Really Does Pull the Trigger

Juicy-FruitWhen we began our healing journey out of autism almost seven years ago, there wasn’t an affordable, comprehensive genetic panel available.  There was Yasko, and there was Lab Corp testing for MTHFR.  That’s it. I distinctly remember the DAN! doctor we saw at the time saying that they always assumed kids needed mB-12 shots, so that would be our first step, while we waited for all the other testing to come back.  My son never really responded to mB-12 injections and developed a severe fear of needles. We stopped a couple of years later.

A few months ago, at the guidance of my fellow TEAM TMR mama who owns Pathways Natural Wellness Center in Denver, we ordered a 23andme genetic test on our son.  23andme bills itself as an ancestry service, not a medical panel, and for $99 you can spit in a test tube and get your DNA and all its mutations sequenced.  You then take the raw data from 23andme and plug it into any one of a number of engines which spit out your particular mutations, some with greater descriptions than others.  Its new technology and tremendously cool.   Then you can choose to work with a practitioner of your choice to figure out personalized supportive supplementation, or figure it out on your own.  There are a lot of very affordable options out there.

So when our son’s mutations came back, my friend said to me, “He never had a chance; he’s a compound heterozygous MTHFR with severely compromised detox pathways.”   The analogy I’ve been using is that if his detox pathways were cracked doors, some little stuff was getting through, but bigger stuff would get stuck, and then clog the whole thing up.  So it made sense to me why almost* every protocol we ever did would first improve things a bit, and then the improvements would plateau and he would crash. The boulders were blocking the doors.

On a whim, my husband and did our own 23andme panels after seeing our son’s.   I was so surprised to see that my genetic mutations are significantly greater in quantity and severity (I have homozygous mutations on two of the three MTHFR mutations, and my husband has one homozygous mutation on the third) than my son’s.  (Our son got one copy of each of the MTHFR mutations that we have).   If you went by genetic profile alone, my son should be healthier than I am.  Granted, I have some health issues — my thyroid is non-functional, I only have one kidney, I have eczema and horrible seasonal allergies, as well as a  higher-than-average level of anxiety (according to my therapist).  But I am fairly smart, neurotypical, not on pysch meds, and a functional tax-paying member of society.

I took psychology and geology for my science requirements in college. Genetics is NOT something I have any training in, but as an autism mom, I’ve had to learn it.  What I can say now, with no reservations, is that while genetics may be the loaded gun environmental exposures pull the trigger. There is no other explanation for the fact that my son has autism and I don’t.  Based on the genetic profile alone, I should have it, not him.

What changed environmentally in the 30ish years between my birth and my son’s?  Why did he get so sick and not me?

1.  Nutrition

DietCokeIn 1986, the government first allowed genetically modified food to hit the markets.  In the ’90s, I was what I call a “poor, starving college student,” and I didn’t even consider the effect of genetic modification or pesticides on my food. I was just grateful to have food to eat.  It wasn’t until well after I got pregnant that my midwife encouraged me to buy as much organic as I could.   The subject had not even crossed my radar before then, so I’m quite sure I had a toxic buildup in my body that transferred to my son in utero.  I was raised on diet soda over regular.  I am quite sure I have chronic aspartame toxicity.   I cut back on the diet soda while pregnant, but didn’t manage to cut it out.  I was too addicted to it.

Before he regressed, while we tried to eat things like Annie’s vs. Kraft, we still fed our son quite a few processed foods:  Cheerios, goldfish crackers — you know, the food you’re “supposed” to feed babies. That stuff is full of artificial crap and shouldn’t be on the market, much less marketed towards developing bodies.

Food today has a much lower level of nutrients than food did when I was a child. This is primarily due to farming practices which strip the nutrition out of the soil  because of the pesticides used and genetic modifications.  Even buying organic, non-GMO doesn’t get you the same nutrition it did 50 years ago.

And that doesn’t even touch on the antibiotics, hormones and other chemicals pumped into animals raised for meat consumption.

2.  Vaccines

I had five shots, two polio, one MMR, and two DPT.  The CDC wants my son to have 54 by the time he is 18, including sometimes twice-yearly flu shots.   We stopped after he’d had about 10, when it was clear things were getting weird.   Many shots comes from a multi-use vial.  They include, among other things, preservatives, MSG, formaldehyde, aluminum, and human and animal DNA.  Vaccines are designed to provoke an artificial immune response.  A child who has a genetic inability to detox out the side effects of an artificial immune response is not going to respond well to vaccines.

3.  Medications

z-pakI was on prescription antihistamines, thyroid medication, and at least one round of antibiotics while I was pregnant.  I also had IV antibiotics in labor, pitocin, and an epidural.  Over the course of my life, I have had countless rounds of antibiotics.  I am quite sure that affected my son in utero.  He is 10 years old and has never had a single prescription antibiotic outside the ones during gestation — I have managed his relatively few illnesses with colloidal silver, chlorine dioxide, vitamin C, vitamin D, oil of oregano, and other natural things that I learned about while pregnant.  I am glad I know all those tricks because odds are decent, based on his genetic profile, that antibiotics could make him regress again.  And we all know about the dangers of Tylenol, right?

4. Air Pollution

We’ve had radiation from Chernobyl and Fukushima. We’ve got strange hatch marks in the sky that could be airplane emissions, except many of us get sick shortly after they appear. We have cloud seeding where heavy minerals are spread in the air to make it rain. We have acid rain. It’s questionable whether our air is fit for breathing.

5.  Fluoride

Fluoride is toxic and shouldn’t be consumed by anyone.  Yet the shelves of the grocery store are lined with bottles of “nursery water,” which is water with added fluoride.  Most municipalities add it to the water supply.   You have to look really hard to find toothpaste without it, and most dentists want to bathe our mouths in it twice a year.

6.  Personal care products

speedstickYes, I know we hate sweat, but underarm antiperspirant is one of the most aluminum-laden, breast-cancer-causing things out there.   It’s really hard to find a natural one that actually keeps the stink factor down, so perhaps we should consider the European method of just being a little stinky.   Don’t even get me started on parabens in commercial soaps and shampoos, carcinogens in makeup and lotions, sunscreen and bugspray . . .  It’s a minefield.

7.  The toxic stew that is the typical home these days

A hundred years ago, give or take a few, cleaning products were limited to soap and water and vinegar.  Today, we have aisles and aisles of carcinogenic cleaning products that we layer over our homes in an effort to scrub away the very bacteria that our children actually need to develop functioning immune systems.  We have carpets that off-gas for years.  We have paint that is toxic to breathe while it dries.  We have chemically treated lumber in our decks.  We have flea and tick collars on our dogs that are toxic.  We have electromagnetic fields emitting from every appliance and computer in our homes.  There are flame retardants sprayed on infant clothing and household furniture.  A friend of mine from college, who is now a neuroscientist, is actually researching  “the effects of early postnatal exposure to the common flame retardants polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) on cognition, thyroid hormones, and basal forebrain cholinergic functioning.”

One of my colleagues in the Thinking Moms Revolution told me the other day that she has genetic reports on her mother, herself, and her autistic child. Of all of them, her mother’s is the worst and her autistic child’s is the best.  That sort of turns on its head the prevalent theory that autism is genetic.  Based on genetics, I should be the one with the developmental delay and “autism,” not my son.

There is no such thing as a genetic epidemic.  These mutations have been around for generations.


My advice to you is to spend the $99 and find out your child’s genetic mutations.  Stop funding organizations unwilling to look at environmental triggers, and start looking at the things you can control. Stop using commercial soap, lotion, deodorant, and makeup — especially while pregnant.  There are lots of non-toxic options out there.  Use a steam mop instead of chemicals to clean your floors and vinegar with orange peels soaked in it for the rest.  Stop buying conventional food and start buying organic, non-GMO.  Get an EMF blocker for your house.  Sew your kid some pajamas that aren’t soaked in chemicals.   Learn to treat your family’s illnesses naturally — go to a chiropractor, naturopath, or herbalist, learn about essential oils. Come to a conference where you can learn all this stuff. Get some training in what supplements HELP your personal genetic structure.   And get some detox support on board.

~ JuicyFruit

*The exception was DMPS chelation.  It was the worst thing we have ever done, from dose one.  Turns out, my son has a CBS mutation that means he doesn’t process sulfur well, and DMPS is sulfur based.

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23 Responses to Genes Load the Gun, the Environment Really Does Pull the Trigger

  1. cia parker says:

    My daughter also reacted badly to the DMSA of the Andy Cutler chelation protocol. However, she did fine with the ALA, which is the one which pulls mercury from the brain, which is the crucial area to pull mercury out of in cases of autism. The DMSA only pulls it out of the bones, blood, and body organs other than the brain. Andy Cutler said that you could successfully chelate using ONLY ALA if you needed to.

  2. There is some interesting research about how topoisomerase interrupting drugs influence gene expression. I have no doubt that the other things you mentioned are also toxic and can affect genetic expression as well. This post specifically concentrates on topoisomerase interrupters though, and, well, it’s certainly worth thinking about –

  3. Sue K. says:

    Vaccine science is antiquated. Doctors should be customizing medicine and vaccines AFTER genetically testing patients. Tune in to 1:40 – “We’re in the age of personalized medicine now. Doctors are starting to test your genes before they decide what to prescribe.” — Dr. Julie Robinson, Chief Scientist, International Space Station program, Johnson Space Flight Center

    So why aren’t doctors and vaccine manufacturers testing genes before recommending vaccinations? Why isn’t the CDC recommending genetic testing prior to vaccination????????????

  4. Vince says:

    Spot on. If anyone wants to know a little more about cellular biology and epigenetics, check out the book “The Biology of Belief” by Bruce Lipton. It’s a pretty quick, easy read given the subject matter, but very relevant.

  5. Alice Troberman says:

    What brand of EMF blocker do you use? I’ve read most are scams..

  6. Nelda McEwen says:

    I have a colleague who is also an alternative therapist. She had noticed a predisposition in an autistic client in the sickle cell neurons (nervous system). May not be a big truth, but the path led there that day.

  7. Elvie Fornshell says:

    Aspartame was one of the worst things you probably did while pregnant. Think methyl alcohol and formaldehyde See “While Science Sleeps” by Woodrow C. Monte a well researched, disturbing and insightful read.

    • ProfessorTMR says:

      I have an acquaintance that was one of the first people I’d ever heard of who had a child with autism that was never vaccinated. She herself thought that the autism was due to the fact that she drank a LOT of diet soda while pregnant. At the time I thought that was unlikely. I no longer think that.

      • Maggie Kaye says:

        I rarely drink soda, but I did drink some Coke Zero (the worst ever!) when I was pregnant with my ASD son. My NT daughter and my ASD son both have one copy of homo mthfr c677t. I also work as a Flight Attendant and did quite a bit of international travel while pregnant with my son (hello, radiation) Aside from that occasional soda, I’ve always been a clean eater and water has been my drink of choice. I believe my son had several strikes against him which were environmentally triggered. I had gestational diabetes while pregnant which was diet controlled; however, my blood was drawn once per week at a lab. I had the same diagnosis while pregnant with my first (nt) child and pricked my own finger several times a day to be sure my diet was controlling it. My son was born with gestational Hypothyroidism and I was diagnosed with Hoshimotos and Hypothyroidism when he was three years old; however, I believe I was diagnosed too late and had this autoimmune condition while pregnant. I’m happy to report that with the help of many, many people including JuicyFruit (one of my first responders) my son is considered to be recovered today, just 2 years after his diagnosis of Autism. His thyroid has been functioning normally without medication for a year. The keys that got us here were eliminating environmental toxins in our home and food (to the best of our ability), and killing the toxic bacteria and pathogens in my sons body. If this were genetic, he would not have regressed nor progressed so rapidly and greatly, and my nt daughter would be on the spectrum as well. Great article, thanks for sharing. My favorite statement is the last sentence of #2.

      • juicyfruit says:

        love you maggs xo

  8. Rebecca Lee says:

    The reason DMPS chelation did not work for your son is you did IVs which are a terrble and dangerous thing to do and the doctor should have known better. DMPS should be taken orally, in very low doses, every six or eight hours. Then it might have helped, and probably would have.

    Do research the Andy Cutler freqent low dose oral chelation protocol. That is what is appropriate for childrren, and adults, too, and is the most effective and important thing you can do towards recovering your children. The book that explains how to do it and which is aimed at children, is “Fight Autism and Win.” Otherwise there is the rather techinical manual, “Amalgam Illness, Diagnosis and Treatment” by Andy Cutler himself.

    • juicyfruit says:

      Please don’t make assumptions – we have never given our son IV chelation. We were given encapsulated DMPS by our DAN doctor. And within 1 dose it was like someone stole my son again.

  9. Seth Bittker says:

    “Therefore, the environment pulls the trigger.” I completely agree.

    I also appreciate that you mention a few of the therapies that did not work so well for your son. Specifically, the B-12 shots and the DMPS chelation. Anecdotes are interesting and useful but there is a tendency to focus on interventions that are successful. It is worth noting that while some interventions are very helpful to many with autism, the same interventions are not helpful or have significant negative repercussions for many as well.

    With respect to your larger point about the importance of environment, I wanted to comment that many of the academic studies that claim environmental affects are insignificant in autism are fundamentally flawed. Often they are twin studies such as this one that has recently received a lot of publicity:

    Essentially, the researchers take a number of sets of twins and observe that identical twins have a significantly higher probability of sharing an autism diagnosis. Based on a model, they then find that autism is primarily genetic.

    Any conclusion about the relative importance of genetics and the environment in development of autism is not warranted based on such studies. Think about it: in almost all cases twins share the same womb, same date and place of birth, same home after birth, same feeding practices and schedules, same chemical exposures, same foods, and same supplements and medical treatments. In fact in most cases for the first few years of their lives they are exposed to the same people and same activities. In essence for all practical purposes the environment of a twin is the same as his or her sibling twin. So is it any wonder if one does a twin study looking at genetic and environment factors in autism and one looks at variation in genetic make-up by categorizing by identical vs nonidentical twins but the environment is essentially the same for each twin pair that it appears that genetic factors dominate?

    • ProfessorTMR says:

      Seth, I have always felt the same way about twin studies. How do you separate out an environmental influence from a genetic influence with twin studies when the twins usually have nearly identical environmental exposures? Even still the more recent studies make it clear that genetics can account for no more than about half of all ASD risk.

  10. Mom of 3 says:

    Great article! Your journey sounds so much like my son and I’s…. I fact strandly common with so many similarities. We did gen testing as well. My son had a very hard time with DMSA AC chelation. Did you ever try ALA to chelate? Thanks!

  11. Kimmy says:

    Hi do you know what would be a good non toxic dust cleaner for furniture?

    Thank you!

    • Cheryl says:

      Kimmy, I am going to suggest a webblog where you can search all kinds of things including how to clean and even as for our house, we jsut use those rags that you get at the dollar store designed to clean and hold onto the dust, they are washable and reusable….need polish…a touch of walnut oil on a rag will shine wood…as for our house the rule is if you didn’t have it in 1890 you don’t need it today.

    • juicyfruit says:

      I vacuum my dusty cloth furniture – no chemicals required. I use a towel dampened with WATER to dust my wood furniture.

  12. angelina says:

    This is really good information. I think that sometimes the cost of things
    turns people away from even looking at the medical piece. When my second son was diagnosed, a lot of the medical interventions came to a halt for us because we were dealing with two kids suffering instead if one. I kind of went numb to a lot of new information to protect myself from guilt about what we couldn’t afford. This test is affordable and provides great insight. We are a pretty natural family (that’s where we spend our dollars) and that has helped so much with our kids progress. Always happy for new tips. Thanks!

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