Dear Antivaxxers,

It is very possible that your choices will prevent your child from developing autism, but those regarding vaccines will not. Recent research suggests a plethora of environmental prenatal factors that play an important role in a child developing autism. These include viral infection, zinc deficiency, abnormal melatonin synthesis, maternal diabetes, prenatal and perinatal stress, toxins, and parental age. But note that if these are prenatal, then administration of a vaccine once a child is born will not affect whether autism develops.

Let us observe these factors more deeply.

First, viral infection (of a pregnant mother). How could an infection cause autism in an unborn child? The answer lies in antibodies. Antibodies are a part of the body’s natural defense mechanism, meant to identify and eradicate foreign objects. And so it makes sense that, during a viral infection, a mother’s immune system increases its number of antibodies. This is great for the mother to stay alive, and these antibodies do not affect her in any negative fashion, but the fetus responds quite differently. Because antibodies can cross the placenta, they find their way into the bloodstream of the fetus, and through the developing “blood-brain barrier”. Here they disrupt normal brain development, and just so, may cause autism. Beware even further, that autoimmune diseases and intense allergies may cause a similar result.

Zinc deficiency has also been shown to increase risk of autism in developing fetuses. Take your vitamins, pregnant mothers. Because zinc is an important element in cell metabolism (namely gene regulation), a lack of the metal will force cells to develop poorly. Even further, high levels of copper can displace zinc and cause similar effects.

Melatonin synthesis is, of course, slight more out of one’s control. But the fact remains, abnormality in its synthesis is correlated with increased rates of autism. The results of this may be seen in the unique sleep-wake cycles of people with autism, as melatonin plays an important role in regulation of circadian rhythms.

Maternal diabetes is quite certainly out of the control of all parties, but it has been shown to be correlated with autism in children. The pathology is unknown however, and more research is necessary to know more about this factor.

Prenatal and perinatal stress may seem difficult to avoid, as having a bowling-ball-and-a-half hanging on your abdomen will certainly cause discomfort. But the increased levels of glucocorticoids and cytokines will not be beneficial to your child. These hormones can cause the immune system to turn into overdrive, and just as with the viral infections, we have seen why that is bad news.

Toxins are certainly bad for adults as well as children. Mercury, lead, thalidomide, valproic acid, and many other chemicals are shown to affect the human brain in adverse ways. With that said, adults are able to handle small doses associated with everyday life. But fetuses? Not so much. Of course, this was part of the scare with vaccines, as they contained minute amounts of mercury. Thankfully, however, this mercury has since been removed, and even if it were not, the mercury had been chemically bound in a non-toxic form.

Parental age can be a very important factor as well. As men age, their gametes (sperm) develop more and more mutations which are then passed on to children. Mutations of any sort are more-than-likely bad for an organism, and can certainly cause brain development issues. Increase age of mothers also has a correlation with autism, though likely through autoimmune disorders and pregnancy complications rather than mutations.

All of this shows that how we behave as “pre-parents” matters to the developing fetus. However, this also shows that children are born with autism, and are not going to develop the disorder from an injection after birth. Vaccinate your children; you will save lives.