Reducing Your Child’s Risk of Autism And Other Disorders: Conception, Pregnancy, And The Newborn Infant, Part II

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This post is Part II of our accompanying companion piece to our vaccination series – Vaccines: A Choice or A Mandate.  In the first part of this series, the topics of pre-conception, pregnancy, and labor were discussed. We learned some important steps to take to help protect our unborn children from toxins and other factors that could lead to the development of disorders like autism and other related problems.

As compared to just 5 decades or so ago, we have a much higher concentration of toxins and chemicals in our water, soil, air, food system, and in many of the things we do and come into contact with on a daily basis.

In Randall Fitzgerald’s The Hundred Year Lie: How to Protect Yourself from the Chemicals That Are Destroying Your Health, he mentions the science journal Public Health which states, “the incidence of brain diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and major neuron disorders, was found to have tripled in nine Western countries, including the United States, during the period of 1974 to 1997. The most likely causes researchers identified were exposure to pesticides sprayed on crops, synthetic chemicals from the processed foods we consume, and industrial chemicals used in almost every aspect of our modern lives.”

Just like autism, Alzheimer’s disease as well as other disorders have been found to be connected to high levels of mercury in the body. Everything you can do to reduce your child’s toxic load from environmental sources will help prevent or reduce the severity of health issues from occurring – from his or her environment in the womb to after birth.

Here are some ways to keep your child’s health safe during newborn infant stages, including some information from Pathways To Family Wellness by Maureen McDonnell, RN:

  • Bond with your baby as much as possible. You will need your sleep, so rest when you can. But be sure to hold and talk to your infant as much as possible. Co-sleeping is an option many parents are adopting to ensure continued contact with their babies. Some parents need the separation time from their children, but know that if you do decide to take the co-sleep option, your child will not be sleeping with you forever, and separation will occur when the time is right.
  • Breastfeeding is one of the best ways to not only provide optimal nutrition, but to ensure there is a good amount of time to bond between you and the baby. While breastfeeding, keep up excellent dietary habits by eating plenty of healthy fats and proteins (olive oil, coconut oil, butter, lard, tallow, fermented cod liver oil, grass-fed meats and poultry, pasture-raised eggs, and raw dairy from a clean source), fresh fruits and vegetables, naturally fermented foods like home-made yogurt, sauerkraut, lacto-fermented vegetables, and sprouted/soaked/fermented grains. Also be sure you are drinking plenty of filtered water with minerals – either use real sea salt or add unsweetened cranberry juice not from concentrate to your water intake.
  • Wear your baby as often as possible. Close contact provides emotional support and frequent motion. These factors all strengthen and support neurological development in your baby. Find a good baby-wearing device that is comfortable for you and your baby to use. Here is a good resource for information on babywearing – Babywearing International.
  • Because birth is strenuous on both the mother and baby, consider having care by a qualified chiropractor shortly after birth. Spinal alignment is essential for healthy recovery and continued stamina. Your baby’s cranial and spinal development will affect his or her nerve system function for the rest of life. Early care supports strong nerve and immune system function.
  • Minimize toxins and pollutants in your baby’s environment. If you haven’t already, consider natural, non-toxic, organic, and sustainable products and living with your baby.  A great resource for how to do this and stay within your budget is the book The Eco-Nomical Baby Guide Down-To-Earth Ways For Parents to Save Money and the Planet – written by two mothers who went green for less than a thousand dollars (I can’t verify this, but apparently the average parents spend an average of $7000 on each newborn child). There are ways to do it even cheaper through hand-me downs, DIY, yard and garage sales, and trading.
  • Although it is an added expense, if possible purchase an organic crib and/or bed mattress. It is a good idea to be aware of bedding and clothing treated with flame retardants and heavy metals in the dye used for these items. They contain high levels of antimony and other toxic substances that can be harmful to your infant (and you).
  • Consider non-toxic and/or organic clothing and other supplies/toys for your baby. Remember that clothing and other items come into direct contact with skin, and anything in those substances can potentially be absorbed into the bloodstream even faster than foods that are digested.
  • Avoid using plastic-ware and bottles for your baby. These substances are not bio-degradable and many contain toxic chemicals like BPA that leech into food and drinks. Good alternatives include bamboo, stainless steel, glass (for some uses), wood, and ceramic. Here are some useful links: Green Your for a list of non-toxic and safe baby dishes and utensils, and Passionate Homemaking’s review of safe cookware for your family.
  • Use non-toxic substances on your baby’s skin for personal care and bathing. Castille soap diluted in filtered water, coconut oil, olive oil, cocoa butter, shea butter, aloe vera, and natural herbals without foreign ingredients are good choices. Avoid personal care products containing ingredients you are unfamiliar with – shampoos, skin creams, baby bath soap or gel products, and others. Become a label reader and if you don’t make your own mixtures at home, learn which brands are safe to use. Consult with the Skin Deep Cosmetics Database for individual product information and ingredients review.
  • Consider diapers carefully. Cloth diapers are good for your baby, but they do require more effort and water for washing than disposable diapers. Organic diapers can be expensive, but commercial diapers may contain ingredients that are undesirable for contact with your baby’s skin.  Here is a review of two eco-friendly brand diapers. And here is a good resource for everything you want to know about cloth diapering.
  • Consider dishwashing and clothing detergent options. Eco-Nuts and Soap Nuts are great for laundry and economical. They can be used multiple times for clothes washing. See The Family Homestead for recipes to make your own detergent.  DIY Natural has a good home-made dish detergent recipe as well. Good brands for dish detergent include Biokleen and Nature Clean.
  • Avoid keeping electronic devices near where your baby sleeps. Clock radios, cell phones, computers, and other equipment that emits electro-magnetic radiation.
  • Continue taking a good quality, whole food-based, organically sourced vitamin supplement, and also fermented cod liver oil. Extra nutrition is always needed to support the health of mom and breastfeeding to provide the best nutrition possible!
  • Avoid all medications and vaccinations until the child is older and you can research and make an informed decision about  the potential affects to your child’s immune, digestive, and neurological systems. Remember that a good health foundation with a healthy environment and nutrient-dense foods are going to take your child a long way in building up a healthy immune system.
  • If for some reason you are unable to breast feed, avoid commercial baby formula. Commercial formulas contain synthetic fillers, chemicals, and nutrients added in, as well as dangerous industrial chemicals such as melamine – a synthetic chemical product that forms hard resins when combined with formaldehyde – and Perchlorate, a hazardous chemical used to produce rocket fuel. Many commercial formulas also contain soy (even those not marketed specifically as soy formula), and processed, industrial soy is one of the worst things you can feed your child. Soy has been linked to neurological, reproductive, endocrine, and thyroid problems. Our family has avoided it for years ever since I became aware of the numerous dangers to our health.

I wish I had known about real food options for my son when he was born. I was unable to breastfeed due to a serious infection I sustained due to a ruptured appendix during my 7th month of pregnancy. Read my story here. If I had known you could make nutritious, home-made formulas for babies, I would have definitely given this to my son!

Here are two of the best recipes I’ve found for nutrient-dense, home-made baby formula, from the Weston A. Price Foundation (see this link for more information):

  • 2 cups whole raw cow’s milk, preferably from pasture-fed cows
  • 1/4 teaspoon acerola powder
  • 1-7/8 cups filtered water
  • 1/4 cup homemade liquid whey (See recipe for whey, below) Note: Do NOT use powdered whey or whey from making cheese (which will cause the formula to curdle). Use only homemade whey made from yoghurt, kefir or separated raw milk.
  • 4 tablespoons lactose
  • 1/4 teaspoon bifidobacterium infantis
  • 2 or more tablespoons good quality cream (preferably not ultrapasteurized), more if you are using milk from Holstein cows
  • 1/2 teaspoon unflavored high-vitamin or high-vitamin fermented cod liver oil or 1 teaspoon regular cod liver oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon high-vitamin butter oil (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon expeller-expressed sunflower oil
  • 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons coconut oil
  • 2 teaspoons Frontier brand nutritional yeast flakes
  • 2 teaspoons gelatin

Milk should be raw, from pastured cows. If you cannot get raw milk, use organic whole milk (not ultra-high temperature pasteurized – UHT). Cod liver oil should be fermented, best brand is from Green Pasture. Real food can be fed to your baby as early as a few weeks after birth, but it needs to be in liquid form. All ingredients should be from organic or sustainable sources, if possible.

Here is the liver-based formula, which is hypoallergenic for babies who have a true lactose intolerance:

  • 3-3/4 cups homemade beef or chicken broth
  • 2 ounces organic liver, cut into small pieces
  • 5 tablespoons lactose
  • 1/4 teaspoon bifidobacterium infantis
  • 1/4 cup homemade liquid whey (See recipe for whey, below)
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon unflavored high-vitamin or high-vitamin fermented cod liver oil or 1 teaspoon regular cod liver oil
  • 1 teaspoon unrefined sunflower oil
  • 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon acerola powder

Recipe for whey (makes about 5 cups):

Homemade whey is easy to make from good quality plain yoghurt, or from raw or cultured milk. You will need a large strainer that rests over a bowl.

If you are using yoghurt, place 2 quarts in a strainer lined with a tea towel set over a bowl. Cover with a plate and leave at room temperature overnight. The whey will drip out into the bowl. Place whey in clean glass jars and store in the refrigerator.

If you are using raw or cultured milk, place 2 quarts of the milk in a glass container and leave at room temperature for 2-4 days until the milk separates into curds and whey. Pour into the strainer lined with a tea towel set over a bowl and cover with a plate. Leave at room temperature overnight. The whey will drip out into the bowl. Store in clean glass jars in the refrigerator.

Nutrition matters!

Contrary to popular belief, babies should not be made to wait to eat real food until they are 4 – 6 months old. This proposterous myth which has been propagated by the conventional medical system causes great harm to your infant’s digestive tract. Feeding foods like grain-based cereals (including rice) promote digestive issues in a big way, causing drowsiness and longer periods of sleep, and detached behavior.

By withholding nutrient-dense foods like fats and proteins early on from your baby’s diet, you are contributing to a variety of issues besides digestive disorders including the onset of food allergies and intolerances, weight problems and various others.  A diet high in carbohydrates this early in an infant’s life lead to the development of insulin resistance and an underdeveloped digestive tract not able to handle digestion of grains as the small intestine does not produce amylase – which is necessary to absorb grains.

According to The Environmental Illness Resource, children with abnormal gut flora due to poor diet and whose biological background foundation is also weak (from the parents)  “testing reveals some typical nutritional deficiencies in many important minerals, vitamins, essential fats, many amino-acids and other nutrients. The most common deficiencies, recorded in these patients, are in magnesium, zinc, selenium, copper, calcium, manganese, sulphur, phosphorus, iron, potassium, vanadium, boron, vitamins B1, B2, B3, B6, B12, C, A, D, folic acid, pantothenic acid, omega-3, 6, 9 fatty acids, taurine, alpha-ketoglutaric acid, glutathione and many other amino-acids. This usual list of nutritional deficiencies includes some most important nutrients for normal development and function of the child’s brain, immune system and the rest of the body.”

In Gut and Psychology Syndrome, Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride, M.D. elaborates on the connection between a pathogen-filled, imbalanced environment in the gut and behavior abnormalities and autoimmune problems appearing in children.  She firmly believes “the child’s digestive system hold the key to the child’s mental development.”

Feeding your baby

After your infant has been consuming breast milk and/or home-made, nutrient dense formula, he or she can start eating more solid foods at ages 4 – 6 months.  Baby-led weaning is very important, so follow your baby’s needs. A great starter food is a egg yolks or soft-boiled egg from chickens on pasture. Babies need healthy fats, proteins, and cholesterol for growth and development. Eggs provide Omega 3s which are critical for brain and neurological development, as well as cardiovascular maintenance.

Children over age 6 months can start eating mashed up raw liver from a healthy grass-fed meat source combined with the egg. You can also introduce butter, raw milk, or home-made yogurt, kefir, or sour cream from raw milk.  If dairy is an issue for your baby (perhaps a casein allergy), try cultured veggie juices and pureed, fermented vegetables made at home after your infant has reached 6-8 months of age.

Making your own baby food at home is best, and foods your other family members eat can be utilized in various stages if they are pureed or mashed. After your baby has started eating some solid foods, be sure to include vegetables and mix them with butter, olive oil, ghee, or coconut oil for good fat-soluble vitamins to help your baby absorb nutrients in vegetables.

Wait until your infant is over age 10 months to introduce complex carbohydrates such as starchy vegetables like potatoes. Allowing his or her digestive system to mature and become healthy from consuming nutrient-dense foods like raw milk, yogurt, liver, grass-fed meats, and healthy fats like coconut and olive oil and butter will help prepare the body for digestion of other foods.

Soups and broths are extremely nutritious (broths more so in the stages where your child doesn’t yet have teeth) and can be a great vehicle for including a lot of nutrient-dense items like vegetables, other healthy meats like beef, pork and lamb, gelatin from a clean source (we use Bernard Jensen), and home-made yogurt, kefir, or home-made sauerkraut or other lacto-fermented vegetables.

Beverages

Continue to give your child raw milk and filtered water, and home-made broths.  These beverages are healthy and provide not only hydrate your child but contain nutrients. Juice is nutritionally empty for the most part and should be avoided. Consuming too much juice – especially the commercial variety – can cause weight gain and digestive issues (again, think insulin spike) unless you are juicing your own creations at home and with no added sugar and serving them only on occasion.

Other beverages which are good to try and extremely nourishing are fermented drinks like water kefir, kombucha, dairy kefir (if your child tolerates dairy), home-made infusions and herbal “teas” such as nettles, chamomile, and ginger. Here is a link to Susun Weed’s site showing how to prepare infusions. Probiotic beverages provide needed friendly bacteria or probiotics to your baby’s digestive tract and immune system as well as increase the nutrient value of the drinks your baby consumes. Herbal infusions have medicinal as well as nutritive properties and are a good source of minerals and some vitamins.

Make a smoothie for your baby, and you can add in a variety of wholesome ingredients that really pack a nutritional punch!

Grains

Grains are difficult to digest and should always be properly prepared when they are introduced to the diet of a young child. Humans lack the enzyme amylase before the age of about 28 months in the digestive tract.  Soaked and sprouted grains have had the phytic acid (a naturally-occurring anti-nutrient) neutralized to allow for greater absorption.  If possible, delay serving grains to your child until at least the age of two years.

Consuming grains too early and not properly prepared can cause numerous digestive problems – bloating, insulin spiking, weight gain, flatulence, abdominal cramping, picky eating preferences, constipation, and loose stools. It is common for parents to buy packaged crackers, cereals, breads, bagels, snacks comprised of grains, and other similar foods when their babies are very young.  But these foods are not properly prepared, are nutritionally empty, and are geared for convenience. They are processed as can be and have had their nutrients stripped out with synthetic added back in. Even organic varieties of these same foods sold at the store should be avoided.

Digestive symptoms such as colic, pain, bloating, and flatulence should not be considered normal, and to keep your infant’s digestive tract and overall health profile optimal, feeding nutrient-dense foods at an early age is critical. Foods like wheat and rice can both cause allergies and health issues as they easily penetrate the delicate lining of the underdeveloped intestinal wall which is not mature enough to digest these substances. The result is toxins dumping into the blood stream, which cause myriad health problems – from noticeable digestive issues, irritability, ADD, and ADHD to full-blown autism.

Build a good foundation for your child!

A healthy foundation really can help you and your child avoid illness, colds, flus, digestive, endocrine, immune, and behavior disorders. Although there is no guarantee anything we do in this life will keep our children from ever getting sick or making sure they live to be 100, taking steps to do what we can to help prevent future problems and provide our children with the best possible chance to have a healthy future is really at the heart of what we do have control over as parents.

Please read Part I of this companion series if you missed it last week.

Please read our Vaccination Series – A Choice or A Mandate, Part I, and Part II.


8 Comments

  • October 1, 2010 - 8:16 AM | Permalink

    Raine, this is so good, so valuable, that I am going to print it out and send it to every one I know who is planning to have a child.

    This is so superior to the prenatal classes, childcare classes and nutrition classes provided by the system. This is so far beyond the garbage spread by the medical profession, the government, and the baby industry that I cannot even begin to describe it .

    Thanks again.

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