Can EMF cause autism? This question has kept scientists and the general public pondering for decades.
We can’t link autism to one single thing. So, answering this question is a bit more complex than simply saying “yes” or “no.”
Autism spectrum disorder, or ASD, is a neurobehavioral condition that affects over 78 million people globally. In 1999, only one in 500 people suffered from this problem. But today, this number has risen to a whopping one in 54. Why?
There are many possible reasons, including genetics, environmental causes, and inadequate prenatal environment. But experts have also identified the ever-growing EMF pollution in our environment as one of the biggest potential causes of the rise in autism cases.
In this post, we’ll have a brief look at autism, the role of EMF in autism development, and things you can do to protect your young ones from developing this disorder.
What is Autism?
Autism is actually a spectrum that consists of different types of illnesses. This is why it’s also known as “autism spectrum disorder” or ASD.
The CCD (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) identifies ASD as a “developmental disability caused by differences in the brain.”
According to them, “People with ASD often have problems with social communication and interaction, and restricted or repetitive behaviors or interests. They may also learn, move, or pay attention differently.”
They add that “it is important to note that some people without ASD might also have some of these symptoms. But for people with ASD, these characteristics can make life very challenging.”
Let’s have a look at the three types of ASD.
Also referred to as “classic autism,” in this condition, an individual suffers from problems like unusual behavior and interests, language delays, and communication challenges.
Many people with classic autism also have intellectual disabilities.
Asperger’s syndrome is the mild version of ASD. In this condition, an individual may exhibit unusual behavior and face social challenges, but they don’t have intellectual disabilities or problems with language.
Pervasive Developmental Disorder
Pervasive developmental disorder is also known as “atypical autism,” or PDD-NOS. Some patients with Asperger’s syndrome are also diagnosed with atypical autism. In this condition, individuals have fewer and milder symptoms compared to classic autism. In most cases, PDD just causes social and communication challenges.
What Causes Autism
Although there are many more types of autism, these three are the most common ones.
But what causes ASD? This is a question even medical professionals have been pondering for years. And so far, the exact cause of ASD is relatively unknown. We only have suspicions based on observed data.
Some suspected risk factors for ASD include:
- Gene mutations
- Fragile X syndrome
- Being born to older parents
- Low birth weight
- Metabolic imbalances
- Exposure to environmental toxins and heavy metals
- Maternal history of viral infections
- Fetal exposure to the medications thalidomide (Thalomid) or valproic acid.
According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), both genetics and environment may determine whether a person develops ASD.
Research Suggests EMF Is a Contributing Factor
Of the many possible reasons, research studies have found that prolonged EMF exposure of either parent or the fetus is one of the reasons individuals develop ASD. Have a look.
Increased Mercury from Dental Amalgam Fillings
You may have heard of dental amalgam fillings or even gotten one. It’s a procedure in which dentists fill your teeth cavities using a mixture of metals, consisting of liquid (elemental) mercury and a powdered alloy composed of silver, tin, and copper.
Elemental mercury is the primary ingredient in dental fillings and is a significant source of people’s exposure to elemental mercury vapor.
Research studies have identified that even low doses of elemental mercury can cause short-term problems like lung inflammation, dyspnea, dry cough, and chest pain.
The long-term effects are even more detrimental. Some evidence indicates that perinatal exposure to mercury is linked to an increased risk of developmental disorders such as autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
Furthermore, mercury exposure also decreases the volume of neurotransmitters such as dopamine, serotonin, norepinephrine, and acetylcholine in the brain causing neurological problems.
Today, many dentists either don’t use mercury-based dental fillings or present their clients with alternatives like:
- Resin composite
- Glass ionomer
- Resin ionomer
- Gold alloys
But although in low numbers, dentists in many parts of the world still use dental amalgam as a primary method to fill their patients’ cavities. Typically, they perform the fillings in a way that doesn’t allow mercury release. But research studies have found that prolonged EMF exposure weakens the integrity of these fillings and causes more mercury to release into your body.
In a 2016 study, Iranian researchers said that, “As a strong association between exposure to electromagnetic fields and mercury level has been found in our previous studies, our findings can lead us to this conclusion that maternal exposure to electromagnetic fields in mothers with dental amalgam fillings may cause elevated levels of mercury and trigger the increase in autism rates.”
Mirror Neuron System Dysfunction
Mirror neurons are “a type of brain cell that respond equally when we perform an action and when we witness someone else perform the same action.”
Imagine you’re walking through a park and the person in front of you smacks their head on a pole. You recoil with sympathy, automatically. Or have you ever noticed that when watching a race, your heart starts to run in excitement as the runners are about to finish the race?
This is the work of mirror neurons. They let us simulate other people’s intentions and emotions.
As with most things in our body, mirror neurons also take orders from the brain through the brain’s electrical impulses. And EMF interferes with that transfer, says a research study from the University of Wales.
“The developing nervous system of an infant may be particularly prone to temporal noise that can interfere with the initial calibration of brain networks such as the mirror neuron system. The most likely source of temporal noise in the environment is artificially generated electromagnetic radiation,” says researcher Ian Thornton.
“It is clear, however, that time-varying electromagnetic waves have the potential to temporally modulate the nervous system, particularly when populations of neurons are required to act together. This modulation may be completely harmless for the fully developed nervous system of an adult. For an infant, this same temporal disruption might act to severely delay or disrupt vital calibration processes [creating problems like autism].”
Damaged Sperm in EMF-Exposed Fathers
A 2014 genetic study found that most autism-inducing genetics aren’t inherited from autism-suffering parents. This means there’s another factor that’s giving rise to genetic mutation.
Researchers have found that men carrying gene-damaging mutations in their sperm is one of the primary causes of autism in their offspring.
Although there are many reasons why a genetic mutation may occur in human sperm, EMF is known to be one of the causes of this problem.
Decades’ worth of research has found that prolonged exposure to EMF from sources like cell phones causes significant damage to sperm.
Although the link between EMF-induced sperm damage and the risk of autism in children is at a hypothesis stage, the evidence we have seems to be pointing inevitably in this direction.
These are just three ways EMF exposure in parents can potentially translate to autism spectrum conditions (ASCs) in children.
A two-part systematic review from the United States entitled “Autism and EMF? Plausibility of a pathophysiological link – Part I” and “Autism and EMF? Plausibility of a pathophysiological link part II” identified that “Many studies of people with ASCs have identified oxidative stress and evidence of free radical damage, cellular stress proteins, and deficiencies of antioxidants such as glutathione.”
And there’s a tangible link between prolonged EMF exposure and the conditions mentioned above.
What Can You Do?
To say that EMF directly causes autism may not be valid. Still, as you can see, prolonged EMF exposure can induce problems that can potentially lead to life-long disorders like ASD.
After reading this, I’m sure that you’re wondering if there’s anything you can do to protect your unborn children or your young ones from these effects.
And the answer to this is yes! You can protect your offspring from the risk of EMF-induced health problems by simply taking some precautions and making a few changes in your lifestyle. Here are some of the things we recommend you do.
Minimize Use & Maximize Distance
When it comes to mitigating EMF exposure, it all comes down to what we call The Two Key Rules of EMF Protection. These are 1) minimize use, and 2) maximize distance.
The first rule, minimize use, asks you to literally reduce your tech use. This is because all electronic gadgets and electrical appliances emit large amounts of EMF, and the less you use them, the less your exposure will be. It’s as simple as that.
Here are some of the ways you can minimize your tech use.
- Turn off your WiFi router at night
- Take some time away from your phone and enjoy offline activities
- Don’t buy smart stuff you don’t need
- Turn airplane mode on your phone when you don’t need network connectivity
- Delay getting your child a smartphone
The second rule, maximize distance, is based on the inverse square law of physics, which says that “the power of EMF weakens with distance.” So, the further you are from the EMF source, the weaker your exposure will be.
Here are some ways you can maximize your distance from technology.
- Keep your WiFi router as far away from you as possible
- Don’t carry your phone in your pocket or bra
- Don’t use your laptop on your lap
- Use the speakerphone feature on your phone instead of holding it up to your head
- Keep your furniture away from outlets
- Don’t sleep with your phone
Take Extra Precautions During Pregnancy
Though children are very susceptible to EMF’s effects, fetuses are even more vulnerable. So, if you’re pregnant, you need to take extra precautions when facing EMF sources.
Follow the minimize use & maximize distance rule as much as you can. And in cases where limiting your gadget use isn’t possible, we also recommend using EMF protection products like the SYB Baby Blanket and the SYB Bandana.
You can wrap these products around your belly when you’re using your gadgets, so the EMF from these sources doesn’t reach your unborn child.
And if you like, you can also go for the SYB Bed Canopy for ultimate protection while you’re asleep.
It’s an investment that goes a long way towards protecting you and your future child from EMF’s adverse effects.
Regularly Test Your EMF Levels
Testing EMF levels is important because it’s only when you test that you can determine the severity of your situation and take further steps accordingly.
EMF testing isn’t as complicated as you may think. Check out SYB’s EMF Testing Resources to learn everything you need to know so you can start gathering EMF-meter readings and testing EMF levels in your home.
And once you get the readings from your EMF meters, you can visit our free Health Fx app to translate those readings into something you can easily fathom.
Learn more about it in my post, “The All-New EMF Health Effects App: Understand the Readings on Your EMF Meter Clearly in Seconds.”
Hold Off on Saying Yes to Giving Your Child a Phone
Although one can’t develop autism in adolescence or adulthood, early childhood is a vulnerable time for developing this disorder. This is why we recommend saying no to giving your child a phone for as long as possible.
This is because children don’t have the same degree of resilience adults have when it comes to facing EMF and experiencing the adverse effects that tag along.
Learn more about this in my post, “Is My Child Ready for a Smartphone? It’s Better to Delay.”
EMF has many effects, but the majority of them are avoidable. You don’t need to quit the convenience of modern technology or condemn all devices that emit EMF. You just need to change your lifestyle in a way that makes your relationship with technology a safer, healthier one.
Visit “The Healthier Tech Podcast,” where a wide variety of experts from different industries share how to use technology in a way that allows you to enjoy its benefits without falling prey to the risks that tag along. The podcast is available on all major platforms. So, give it a listen.