Genetic Verses Hereditary ... The Critical Difference…So Often Misunderstood!
UPDATE: Almost every chromosome in the human dna code has been said to carry "an answer to autism" or "the autism gene! Don't be fooled by this... autism is NOT HEREDITARY... although there are certainly GENETIC implications in that we see mutations to chromosomes. For a whole lot more on this... see my research file... posted on HOME page... AFTER you read information below!
The more I read about matters relating to autism, the more something else became rather obvious to me... the fact that, generally, we assumed that because a disorder was said to be "genetic" that it was also "hereditary"... but, indeed, there was a very critical difference.
I first became aware of this issue as I researched how Down Syndrome (DS) fit into this whole puzzle. DS was a "genetic disorder" whereby chromosome 21 duplicated itself – a condition known also as Trisomy 21. So, yes, "genetics" were definitely involved, but, did that mean that “genetics” or “mutations were also “hereditary" in nature – absolutely not!
"Why Down’s syndrome occurs is unknown. What is known is that the risks of conceiving an affected baby, increase as the mother gets older. Less than 1% of Down’s syndrome is hereditary. Rare types of translocations are responsible for these. One of the parents will be a carrier of the translocation. Only these parents will have an increased chance of conceiving a second affected baby." [end of quote, emphasis added, refer to: http://pregnancyuk.net/article_117 ].
There were a few other interesting quotes I had found regarding Down Syndrome – I quote:
"In 1997, 7000 children were born with DS in the United States alone. Worldwide, the rate of occurrence is one out of every 800 births… Twenty-five percent of all miscarriages are caused by Trisomy 21… The age of the mother also affects the rate of occurrence. For women between the ages of 35 and 40, the risk of having a baby with Down syndrome increases to one in 350. For women at the age of 40, the risk increases to one in 100. For women at the age of 45, the risk increases to a stunning one in 30; that's the basic Trisomy 21. Fifty percent of the people born with translocation are scattered, and another fifty percent are due to balanced translocation in one parent; thus, it's heredity. To this day, however, the reoccurrence rate is unknown. Down syndrome-Trisomy 21, is not really an inherited disorder but more of a genetic abnormality of the chromosome makeup in the body. [end of quote, emphasis added, Bettencourt, J., Down Syndrome: Trisomy 21, Biology Alive, 1998, Long Island Univ. Virtual Classrooms, http://www.altonweb.com/cs/downsyndrome/index.htm?page=bettencourt.html].
Well, again, given what I had come to understand about the role of iron and insulin in these disorders, all I could say was "I was not surprised"... especially given that as a woman aged, those insulin levels and iron levels could easily "be off" also with "more pregnancies" and hence, "more prenatal vitamins" and foods - loaded with iron, and possibly less exercise as well.
If indeed less than 1% of cases of DS were considered "hereditary" – what about that other 99%? Down Syndrome could be identified long before the child was born – while the infant was still in the womb. As such, if not “hereditary” in 99% of cases, what was causing this mutation in so many children while they were still in the womb? According to information from the Edelson Center, DS was very much a disorder involving two critical things – superoxide dismutases, also known as SOD, and - iron. When SOD interacted with iron, it combined to form one of the most toxic free radicals known to man. Davis and Yi (1998) had shown that SOD levels could be impacted by high iron diets. Surely, that meant that iron supplementation via prenatal vitamins also had to be suspect in all this! Insulin and iron were now known to modulate one another (refer to Fernandez-Real, Lopez-Bermejo, and Ricart). My son Zachary, a child with autism, had been born “low on glucose”. Insulin had been used since the early 1940s to treat persons with schizophrenia, and autism used to be called “childhood schizophrenia”… and now, a dual diagnosis of autism and DS was no longer rare (refer to Cohen & Patterson), so much so that this had been a topic of discussion or item on the agenda at international DS conferences… both past and present! Children with DS were also more likely to have diabetes and leukemia! All very interesting to say the least. What could possibly be causing this mutation we saw in DS… the “genetic but not hereditary disorder” that now shared so many parallels with autism, and Alzheimer’s?
Could that "genetic mutation" occurring prior to birth in the child possibly have anything to do with the fact that, for decades, we had been injecting humans with known gene mutants via vaccines? Things such as - aluminum and formaldehyde - both found in vaccines and both known "gene mutants"! Let us not forget that by age 35, the DS brain resembled that of - Alzheimer's - what I now believe to be nothing more than "autism in the elderly”. Chromosome 21 was indeed tied to both DS and beta-amyloid and both disorders were known to involve issues with “iron metabolism”, too!
Note that during the Simpsonwood meeting, as attendees discussed the rise in neurodegenerative disorders – in general - the following comment was made:
Dr. Weil: "The rise in the frequency of neurobehavioral disorders whether it is ascertainment or real, is not too bad. It is much too graphic. We don't see that kind of genetic change in 30 years" [end of quote from Simpsonwood transcript, p. 208].
In other words, Dr. Weil was stating that "genetic change" in 30 years could not account for the tremendous increases we were seeing in these disorders. Well, I can only say that it appeared Dr. Weil considered "genetic" and "hereditary" to be one and the same.
Interestingly, Dr. Weil's statement made me think of "something else" though... all we were seeing in all these "other disorders" were but "a mutation here and there"... and yet, in DS, what we were seeing was an entire chromosome replicating itself! So, if indeed Dr. Weil's comment of "changes in genetics" over 30 years was correct, well surely a "change in genetics" consisting of an entire replication of a chromosome was a much greater mutation than just a mutation "here and there" and as such - how did the CDC possibly explain what we saw in DS - the "genetic but not hereditary condition" in which a much greater mutation occurred - potentially - over a much shorter period of time - because children with DS were certainly also being born to mothers under the age of 30!
And, given the statement made above that "25% of all miscarriages might be caused by Trisomy 21" - was it not "rather odd" that a "genetic but not hereditary condition" could be resulting in so many miscarriages today? Somehow, I suspected iron supplementation during pregnancy played a role here! In a study by Casanueva, E., et al., entitled Supplement: Nutrition as a Preventive Strategy against Adverse Pregnancy Outcomes: Iron and Oxidative Stress in Pregnancy, J. Nutr. 133:1700S-1708S, May 2003, the authors had stated that research or studies on iron supplementation during pregnancy were - I quote - “almost non-existent”!
Heart problems, leukemia, diabetes, ear and eye problems - all these were common in DS... how interesting again... given these were also, so often, very much issues in - autism! My nephew, diagnosed with PDD - on autism spectrum - also had heart problems and required heart surgery at age 5 and my own son, had been born “low on glucose” – a clear sign of a problem from day 1 – a sign of a problem – while still in the womb! Iron and insulin modulate each other - and iron, was very much known to impact - the heart!
How very interesting indeed that "genetic" DID NOT mean "hereditary" - and that "genetics" appeared to be rather "stable" over time (per Dr. Weil’s comment), and therein - was a critical issue - because, obviously, being "born with" a disorder did not mean that the damage could not have been "environmental"! Indeed, the more I learned, the more I believed that perhaps in most disorders what we were seeing were indeed "genetic mutations" that may very well be "genetic but not hereditary"!
So, yes, "genes" were involved... because "mutations had occurred"... but, those "mutations" were not necessarily "hereditary" ... at least not at first! Later, they may very well be "hereditary" as the "bad genes" or "genetic mutations" were passed on to the offspring. But, again, even if "hereditary", what had caused the "original mutation"? To call something "hereditary" because the offspring received a mutated gene from the parents did not mean that "the original mutation" was "hereditary" also... again, what caused that mutation in the parent? If 99% of cases of DS were "non-hereditary", I suspected that 1%, truly was not "hereditary" either and I suspected this could very well be the case for many, many disorders we said were “hereditary” given iron and insulin played such critical roles in the human body. Hormones were known to be very, very sensitive – measured in parts per trillion… and insulin was – a hormone! Mercury was very much known to impact the endocrine system (hormones) in the human body.
It certainly seemed to me that we had all - as a society - been conditioned into thinking that "genetic" meant "hereditary"... and that "hereditary" meant "it’s a problem with your genetics"... and that this meant the "genetic or hereditary problem" could not possibly be "environmental"... but, certainly, this little insight into Down Syndrome appeared to very much indicate otherwise - Down Syndrome - “the genetic but not hereditary condition” that could, in my opinion - like autism - shed a great deal on all these issues of "genetics" and "mutations" and whether or not they could be the result of environmental factors such as viruses themselves, iron, mercury and/or aluminum toxicity.
Autism and Down Syndrome… and metal toxicity… bit and pieces… certainly, in my opinion, there could be no denying that Down Syndrome could now be an important first domino to topple the autism puzzle…
So many bits and pieces… some many dominos so clearly inter-related… and at times, from such unexpected places…