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Thursday, September 21, 2023


  In The Politics of Autism, I discuss various ideas about what causes the condition

Fowler, Sharon Parten, David Gimeno Ruiz de Porras, Michael D. Swartz, Paula Stigler Granados, Lynne Parsons Heilbrun, and Raymond F. Palmer. 2023. "Daily Early-Life Exposures to Diet Soda and Aspartame Are Associated with Autism in Males: A Case-Control Study" Nutrients 15, no. 17: 3772.  Abstract:
Since its introduction, aspartame—the leading sweetener in U.S. diet sodas (DS)—has been reported to cause neurological problems in some users. In prospective studies, the offspring of mothers who consumed diet sodas/beverages (DSB) daily during pregnancy experienced increased health problems. We hypothesized that gestational/early-life exposure to ≥1 DS/day (DSearly) or equivalent aspartame (ASPearly: ≥177 mg/day) increases autism risk. The case-control Autism Tooth Fairy Study obtained retrospective dietary recalls for DSB and aspartame consumption during pregnancy/breastfeeding from the mothers of 235 offspring with autism spectrum disorder (ASD: cases) and 121 neurotypically developing offspring (controls). The exposure odds ratios (ORs) for DSearly and ASPearly were computed for autism, ASD, and the non-regressive conditions of each. Among males, the DSearly odds were tripled for autism (OR = 3.1; 95% CI: 1.02, 9.7) and non-regressive autism (OR = 3.5; 95% CI: 1.1, 11.1); the ASPearly odds were even higher: OR = 3.4 (95% CI: 1.1, 10.4) and 3.7 (95% CI: 1.2, 11.8), respectively (p < 0.05 for each). The ORs for non-regressive ASD in males were almost tripled but were not statistically significant: DSearly OR = 2.7 (95% CI: 0.9, 8.4); ASPearly OR = 2.9 (95% CI: 0.9, 8.8). No statistically significant associations were found in females. Our findings contribute to the growing literature raising concerns about potential offspring harm from maternal DSB/aspartame intake in pregnancy.

Aspartame joins a very long and growing list of other correlatesrisk factors, and possible causes that have been the subject of serious studies:

  1. Inflammatory bowel disease;
  2. Pesticides;
  3. Air pollution and proximity to freeways;
  4. Maternal thyroid issues;
  5. Autoimmune disorders;
  6. Induced labor;
  7. Preterm birth;
  8. Fever;  
  9. Birth by cesarean section;
  10. Anesthesia during cesarean sections;
  11. Maternal and paternal obesity;
  12. Maternal diabetes;
  13. Maternal and paternal age;
  14. Grandparental age;
  15. Maternal post-traumatic stress disorder;
  16. Maternal anorexia;
  17. Smoking during pregnancy;
  18. Cannabis use during pregnancy;
  19. Antidepressant use during pregnancy;
  20. Polycystic ovary syndrome;
  21. Infant opioid withdrawal;
  22. Zinc deficiency;
  23. Sulfate deficiency;
  24. Processed foods;
  25. Maternal occupational exposure to solvents;
  26. Congenital heart disease;
  27. Insufficient placental allopregnanolone.
  28. Estrogen in the womb;
  29. Morning sickness;
  30. Paternal family history;
  31. Parental preterm birth;
  32. Antiseizure meds
  33. Location of forebears
  34. Lithium