By Treven Pyles
Posted on February 04th, 2022
It is a widely known fact that exposure to heavy metals from baby food can result in autism. One of the symptoms of autism is cognitive damage, which refers to difficulty remembering and learning new things and concentrating. However, cognitive damage can occur by itself due to heavy metal exposure.
Also known as cognitive impairment, cognitive damage occurs when a person lacks short-term and long-term memory, has identity confusion, displays poor judgment, and when their thinking is clouded by confusion. Furthermore, they can have other symptoms, including language problems, short attention span, and visual and perceptual impairments. Cognitive damage can range from mild to severe.
One of the most recent studies on the connection between autism and cognitive damage, published in the medical journal Molecular Cell, identified a short gene segment crucial for brain development and information processing. When the gene is absent, the child experiences altered social behaviors, memory deficits, and learning difficulties, which are hallmarks of autism.
Interestingly, only 31% of children with autism struggle with intellectual disabilities, whereas 44% have IQ scores in the average to the above-average range. Therefore, only some children with autism have cognitive damage, and this study might have just discovered what differentiates the two groups of children. Autism is best known for difficulties in social interaction and communication and is believed to arise from mishaps in brain wiring.
Most autism cases are idiopathic, meaning their cause is unknown. Researchers found a connection between autism and short gene segments, known as microexons, that are preponderantly expressed in the brain of children with the disorder. "It's very important to understand the mechanisms that underlie autism, especially in idiopathic forms where it is not clear what the underlying causes are. Not only have we identified a new mechanism that contributes to this disorder, but our work may also offer a more rational development of therapeutic strategies," says Thomas Gonatopoulos-Pournatzis, the lead author of the study.
Nevertheless, how microexons contribute to the development of autism is not clear yet. Researchers focused on a microexon in a gene known as eIF4G, which is essential for protein synthesis in the cell. They discovered that this microexon is overwhelmingly excluded from eIF4G gene transcripts in the brains of children with autism. To determine whether the eIF4G microexon is important for brain function, the lead author and his team bred mice that lack it.
To researchers' disbelief, the mice displayed social behavior deficits, including avoiding social interaction with each other, establishing a correlation between the eIFG4 microexon and autistic-like behaviors. A surprise also came when the researchers found that these mice had poor performances in learning and memory tests as well. The following are two other key findings of the study, which was conducted by virtue of the University of Toronto:
Ultimately, the study found a common molecular mechanism for Fragile X and idiopathic autism, both disorders affecting cognitive functions. The researchers who partook in the study believe that these findings could help explain a significant proportion of autism cases with no genetic clues. The discoveries also enable the development of new therapies, one potential treatment approach being to increase the splicing of the eIF4G microexon in children with autism by using small molecules as a way to improve their social and cognitive deficits.
Unfortunately, cognitive damage can occur in the absence of autism too. The heavy metal that is most commonly associated with cognitive damage in children is lead, as it is extremely powerful and dangerous. Last year's congressional report found that lead is often lurking in store baby food. According to a study from the Journal of the American Medical Association, childhood lead exposure was correlated with long-term cognitive damage and significant difficulty in finding a job later in life. The 565 children observed over a period of five years came to struggle with lower cognitive function and socioeconomic status at the age of 38.
Another study, published in the Journal of Preventive Medicine and Hygiene, revealed that workers exposed to lead often showed impaired performance on neurobehavioral tests focusing on attention, processing, speed, visuospatial abilities, working memory, and motor function. Research also suggested that lead could adversely impact their general intellectual performance. It is paramount to note that long-term exposure to lead, even to trace amounts, can cause irreversible brain damage. To sum up, the following are the effects of lead on the brains of children in terms of cognitive damage:
Finally, it is noteworthy that lead can attack the brain and nervous system in severe cases, resulting in coma, convulsions, and even death. Children who survive the experience rarely get out unscratched, as they come to suffer from intellectual disability and behavioral disorders. If you have been feeding your child store baby food, we advise you to seek a safer alternative until it becomes mandatory for all manufacturers to regularly test for heavy metals and to recall all the remaining adulterated products from the market.
Do you have no idea where to look for clean, nutritious baby food? If so, we have got your back - by virtue of the Toxic Baby Food Replacement Initiative, you can request free products for your child from the ethical companies we have partnered up with.