Autism: Is it in the water?

Your water might run through a filter on your faucet, look clean, taste crisp, and even pass any do-it-yourself tests for contaminants.

But odds are, it's not clean.

U.S. drinking water can contain drugs and other contaminants that can't be removed by those little faucet filters and won't show up on home-based tests -- and those contaminants can ruin your family's health.

Now, new research on fish finds that the trace levels of antidepressants often found in water could play a role in causing autism, especially in kids who might already be genetically susceptible to the disease.

In experiments on minnows with genes associated with autism, low levels of the antidepressants Prozac and venlafaxine and the anti-seizure drug carbamazepine (levels close to what has been seen in the water supply in some places) triggered genetic activity similar to what we see in autistic humans.

The study is small. And I'd say it's doubtful that these two drugs in the water alone are causing most cases of autism.

But they certainly could be playing a role in some cases.

By the way, do you know what else you'll find in very low doses in the water supply? Mercury -- and despite what you may have read in the mainstream press, exposure to this toxic heavy metal is most certainly a risk factor for autism and developmental problems.

Depending on where you'll live, your water could also be hiding drugs, hormones, chemical waste such as rocket fuel, and of course fluoride. None of these things are good for humans, and they're even worse for the developing brains of babies and children.

I don't believe there's one "smoking gun" when it comes to causes of autism -- but it's clear to me that exposure to these and other toxins is one of the leading risk factors.

As I told you not long ago, autism rates have now reached all-time highs. And if the child or grandchild in your life has been diagnosed with the condition, detoxification can work wonders and in some cases even cure the condition -- especially when combined with dietary approaches.

And now, one new study finds a simple supplement that can help erase some of the worst behavior in the toughest cases.

You probably know what I'm talking about -- the autistic kids who act out through hitting, fighting, and screaming. Some of these children become uncontrollable, not to mention unpredictable.

But in the new study, autistic children with a pattern of these disruptive behaviors showed remarkable improvement when given N-Acetylcysteine, or NAC. After 12 weeks of taking the supplement, their scores on a scale measuring irritability dropped from an average of 13.1 to 7.2.

Kids who were given a placebo, on the other hand, had only very minor improvements.

In addition, the kids given NAC also had fewer of the repetitive behaviors that are often seen in cases of autism.

We'll need to see more research to know for sure if this works. But I recommend NAC for detoxification all the time -- and since, as I mentioned, autism is caused or worsened by toxins, it wouldn't surprise me at all to find that NAC can help.