Mystery of Autism

A Fat Future?
A new study predicts that if Americans continue their current trends of eating too much and exercising too little, in 40 years, almost everyone will be overweight.

“That is very, very likely,” Dr. Jim says. “Now, about 30 percent, of at least kids, are overweight. The curve is very, very steep.”

Dr. Travis adds that 66 percent of adults are currently carrying too many extra pounds, but expresses hope for the waistlines of his fellow Americans. “I think if we do it right, we can reverse that trend,” he says.

Are you planning to conceive soon but are concerned about packing on the extra pounds? When you see thin celebrities remaining skinny while they’re pregnant, do you wish you could be like them? There’s a new unhealthy trend among mothers-to-be known as pregorexia, where women try to gain as little weight as possible by dieting and exercising during their pregnancies.

“That’s really, really unhealthy,” Dr. Lisa says.

“I think it’s child endangerment if a mom is on a diet losing weight! It’s dangerous for the baby,” Dr. Jim adds.

You can gain too little and too much, and they all cause problems for the baby or the mom,” Dr. Lisa explains. “It’s really important to monitor weight but not to go to the extremes.” She also warns that too much exercise can be dangerous as well, but it’s important to stay active. Some workouts the OB/GYN suggests are swimming, walking, yoga and Pilates.

The Mystery of Autism
It is estimated that one out of every 110 kids in America will be diagnosed with autism; the fastest-growing developmental disability at this time. The neurological disease affects a person’s ability to communicate and interact with others.

How is this happening? Could it be from vaccines? Is autism hereditary or caused by environmental factors? This subject is hotly debated across the country … and now on The Doctors.

Dan and Lori have seven children, and four of them are autistic. Their oldest son, Mitchell, 10, easily becomes anxious and emotional. Alex, 9, wears Halloween costumes every day and exhibits destructive tendencies in the home. Their oldest daughter, Danielle, 8, is starting to talk more, but rarely interacts with other children. Adam, 6, is the most severely affected. He has no verbalization and oftentimes hits and kicks his parents and pushes his siblings. His tantrums have become so intense that he has even been hospitalized.

“It’s like I failed the kids somehow,” Dan says.

One of the most difficult things for Dan and Lori to manage with autistic children is discipline. “It’s hard for them to realize that what they did is wrong,” Lori says.

In studio, Dr. Travis asks Dan and Lori, “How do you manage?”

“It’s a day-by-day thing,” Lori says. “We do see progress with the kids. That is great. We do see things work, and that’s what keeps us going.”

Dr. Jim explains that doctors still don’t know why children develop the disability. He asks the couple to describe some of the early symptoms they observed in their children.

Dan says some of the kids did not exhibit speech, were staring off and were not able to effectively communicate.

“They don’t run to you with a toy and ask you to interact with them,” Lori says. “Not only did they not develop speech, speech stopped.” She adds that their daughter used to be a happy, bubbly baby, but her disposition changed, and she would sit in the corner and ignore others. “There were definite personality changes.”

Behavior Symptoms of Autism

Dr. Jim explains the signs of autism, often seen in kids before the age of 3 and many times by 12 to 18 months old:

• Changes in social interaction

• Lack of eye contact

• Appearing to be in his/her own world

• Displaying no interest in other children playing

• Showing no attachment to parents

• Unaware of the environment and other people

• Changes in verbal skills: either doesn’t learn to talk or regresses and stops talking

• Repetitive behaviors: hand flapping, staring at ceiling fans, spinning or rocking, lining up toy cars or other objects.

“A lot of these behaviors are kind of typical in ‘typical kids,’ too,” Dr. Jim says. “That’s sometimes the confusing thing.” Autism affects each child differently.

Dan and Lori worry about their son, Eric, who is not autistic. They don’t know how to prevent him from modeling behaviors after his older siblings, when that’s all that he sees.

Dr. Jim explains that he will learn by watching his parents, other kids at school and friends.

The parents ask Dr. Sears when they should tell their younger children that their older siblings have autism.

“Tell them right now. They’re living it,” Dr. Jim says. He assures the couple that their younger children will understand.

Lori is pregnant again and worries for the fate of her unborn child.

“Over the years, we’ve learned that there definitely is a genetic factor here,” Dr. Jim says. “There is something in the genes of your kids that make them a little vulnerable to a trigger. We still don’t know what that trigger is.” He offers that triggers could be viruses, heavy metals like lead, or other chemicals. “There are a lot of theories.”

Pediatrician Dr. Jay Gordon, who strongly believes that vaccines are a major contributing factor in autism, joins the discussion.
“Vaccines, as they are now formulated can cause autism and other problems,” Dr. Gordon says. “Right now, they’re not as safe as they can be.” He advises that Dan and Lori do not vaccinate their unborn child. “You have a genetic, a familial predisposition to children developing autism,” he tells them. “All children who get vaccines don’t get autism. All children with autism are not autistic because of vaccines.”

Dr. Gordon suggests that before parents vaccinate their children, they should educate themselves, find a doctor they trust, and look at their family history for autism, childhood depression and autoimmune diseases. “The very serious Neuroimmunologists are now saying that autism is a neuro-immune disorder,” he says. “I really think that it doesn’t make any sense to give five or six shots to a little baby whose immune system and central nervous system are still a little bit questionable and extremely immature. Wait six months, wait a year. Get counsel. Read as much as you can. But the way that vaccines are manufactured can cause autism. The way that they’re administered can cause autism, and they should be much, much safer.”

On the other side of the debate is Dr. Harvey Karp, who agrees with the many studies that show zero association between vaccines and autism. “If you stop immunizing children, especially in the first year or two, you’re putting them at risk,” he says. “Vaccines are a miracle.” He adds that studies performed in other countries show that when the rate of immunizations go down, the rate of illnesses go up.

Dr. Gordon disagrees. “The studies were not done well. The studies were often funded by the manufacturers of the vaccine,” he refutes. “I don’t vaccinate against any illnesses that pose anywhere near as much a threat to your family as autism does. I admit that if we stop giving certain vaccines, some illnesses might return. I admit that there’s no proof that vaccines cause autism. There’s evidence.” He is adamant that more testing needs to be completed.

Dr. Karp tells Dr. Gordon that he must back his claims with scientific proof. “The only reason we have little disease right now is because so many people are getting their kids immunized,” he says. “If more and more people follow the advice that [Dr. Gordon’s] giving -- to defer these vaccines -- and we see more illness, the children who are going to suffer are not so much the ones who choose not to get the immunizations, but the next-door neighbor and the kids in the preschool, who then spread the illness back to little babies who are not even old enough to get the immunizations yet.”

Dr. Sears weighs in. “I do not want everybody to stop vaccinating, because then we’re going to see polio come back, and kids are going to start dying of measles again,” he says. “In my office, I try to look at each child individually. I want to get them eventually fully vaccinated, unless they have a lot of risk factors for autism.” He looks at Dan and Lori and tells them, “If your family was in my practice, there’s no way I would vaccinate your kids, but I would also talk to you about how to minimize your risks of catching those important illnesses.” He adds that the vaccine companies have taken mercury out of most of childhood vaccines -- a metal people think contribute to developing autism. “I encourage my patients not to blow off vaccines, but I want to do it as safely as I can,” Dr. Jim says, explaining that he starts children at 2 months with the important vaccinations like whooping cough and meningitis, but he only gives one or two at a time. “Some of the more controversial ones, we wait until later,” he says.

Dr. Travis concludes, “Most physicians support vaccination, and we don’t want to go back to a time where when someone comes into the hospital, we’re worried about all of these diseases that have pretty much been wiped out of our children.”

Body Worlds

The Doctors have an unusual visitor onstage with them; a human body from the BODY WORLDS exhibit. This groundbreaking exhibition consists of real human corpses that have gone through a process called plastination, which stops tissue decomposition. BODY WORLDS gives viewers a look at the intricate details of the human anatomy.

The Doctors
’ cameras follow Michelle, a woman struggling with her weight, to see the BODY WORLDS exhibit. She observes firsthand the effects of obesity on a man who was 300 pounds.

“I don’t want to look like that. I think that’s disgusting,” Michelle says as she views slices from the man’s body. “When you look at it this way, it hits you pretty hard.”

After her visit to the exhibit, Michelle is ready to make a change. “I definitely want to be healthier,” she says. “I don’t want to be a big fat slice in a box.”

In studio, Michelle explains that she’s tried many different fad diets. “It’s nothing you can stick to,” she says. “It’s nothing that’s a lifestyle change.”

Dr. Jim shares that he used to be 50 pounds overweight. “I knew that I had to make some very important changes, otherwise I was headed for cancer or premature death,” he says. “It took me over a year to lose even just the first 30 pounds. You’ve got to stick to it.”

Dr. Travis informs Michelle that her blood lab work shows that she is at risk for developing type 2 diabetes. “You’re showing some insulin resistance already, and that’s why it’s so important for you to make this change,” he says.

Fitness expert JJ Virgin shares a game plan with Michelle. “When you get to this point, and you try something for a couple of days, you actually do more damage, because you need to get healthy to lose weight,” she says. “Exercise is a big part of this. Being sedentary sets you up for insulin resistance.” She points out that strength training is key to an exercise program. “Resistance training is one of the fastest ways to start restoring this insulin sensitivity.”

JJ also offers Michelle dietary advice. “I don’t do 180-degree diet change overnight, because that’s not practical. We’ll start step by step,” she says. “These have to become habits. If you live like a healthy, lean person, you’ll become one, but not overnight. You didn’t get here overnight.”

Michelle should start adding fiber to diet, which will make her less hungry and balance her blood sugar. JJ adds that the most important step Michelle needs to follow is being accountable. “You and I will get to be very close friends, because you’re going to be reporting to me on a daily basis,” she says. “What I encourage anyone to do is don’t go at it alone. Grab a hold of someone. Get a friend -- make sure he/she is a supportive friend -- and report to them.”

Fact or Fiction?

The Doctors bust some common medical myths:

Regular exercise can put the spark back into your sex life: Fact

“It keeps you vital. It keeps the blood flowing,” Dr. Jim explains. “It decreases stress.”

Feeding kids sugar causes hyperactivity: Fiction

“There were some studies that showed that maybe sugar doesn’t cause hyperactivity, but I totally disagree with that, and I know there are millions of moms at home right now with their kids bouncing off the walls, and they disagree with that too,” Dr. Jim says. “Some kids are much more sensitive to sugar.”

You will catch a cold if you go outside with wet hair: Fiction

Dr. Ordon explains that if your immunity is low from not eating well, getting too little sleep or experiencing stress, you may be more susceptible to catching a cold.

“It just seems to happen in the winter because everybody is indoors,” Dr. Lisa adds.

Dr. Travis points out that a cold is caused by a virus. “When you’re in enclosed spaces, and everyone’s giving each other the virus, that’s when you get a cold,” he explains.

Flossing your teeth can prolong your life: Fact

“Gum disease is a chronic ongoing infection that affects your body, and it can affect every organ system,” Dr. Ordon says. So it’s important to keep your gums and mouth healthy.

Dr. Lisa shares, “It’s very important to visit your dentist regularly during pregnancy, because it can cause pre-term labor if you have infection in your gums.”

Dr. Travis adds, “Gum disease is known to increase your risk of heart disease, as well.”

Dr. Jim jokes, “My dentist once told me I should only floss the teeth that I want to keep.”

If you read in poor lighting, you will develop eye problems: Fiction

The Doctors explain that eye sight is based more on family history.

Dr. Lisa cautions that your eyes can become fatigued if you’re reading with dim light, so be on the lookout for twitching.

CVS/pharmacy Prescription for Health: Motion Sickness Nausea, vomiting, headache and sweating … these are common symptoms of motion sickness -- a condition that occurs when the inner ear, eyes or other areas of the body detect motion. They send conflicting messages to the brain, tricking your body into thinking that it’s moving.

“The key is to prevent it,” Dr. Travis says. “Once the symptoms start, they’re pretty hard to stop.”

If you find yourself feeling queasy, follow these steps:

• Sit or lay down in an area that appears to move the least

• Take a prescription or over-the-counter medication -- it’s best to take these before traveling

• Use acupressure wristbands
• Take powdered ginger capsules

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