William Shaw, PhD
Context: Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder for which a number of genetic, environmental, and nutritional causes have been proposed. Glyphosate is used widely as a crop desiccant and as an herbicide in fields of genetically modified foods that are glyphosate resistant. Several researchers have proposed that it may be a cause of autism, based on epidemiological data that correlates increased usage of glyphosate with an increased autism rate.
Objective: The current study was intended to determine if excessive glyphosate was present in the triplets and their parents and to evaluate biochemical findings for the family to determine the potential effects of its presence.
Design: The author performed a case study with the cooperation of the parents and the attending physician.
Setting: The study took place at The Great Plains Laboratory, Inc (Lenexa, KS, USA).
Participants: Participants were triplets, 2 male children and 1 female, and their parents. The 2 male children had autism, whereas the female had a possible seizure disorder. All 3 had elevated urinary glyphosate, and all of the triplets and their mother had elevated values of succinic acid or tiglylglycine, which are indicators of mitochondrial dysfunction.
Intervention: The participants received a diet of organic food only.
Outcome Measures: The study performed organic acids, glyphosate, toxic chemicals and tiglylglycine, and creatinine testing of the participants’ urine.
Results: The 2 male triplets with autism had abnormalities on at least 1 organic acids test, including elevated phenolic compounds such as 4-cresol, 3-[3-hydroxyphenyl]-3-hydroxypropionic acid and 4-hydroxyphenylacetic acid, which have been previously associated with Clostridia bacteria and autism. The female, who was suspected of having a seizure disorder but not autism, did not have elevated phenolic compounds but did have a significantly elevated value of the metabolite tiglylglycine, a marker for mitochondrial dysfunction and/or mutations. One male triplet was retested postintervention and was found to have a markedly lower amount of glyphosate in his urine.
Conclusions: The pattern of metabolites in the urine samples of the males with autism are consistent with a recent theory of autism that connects widespread glyphosate use with alteration of animal and human gastrointestinal flora. That theory is that the normally beneficial bacteria species that are sensitive to glyphosate are diminished and harmful bacteria species, such as Clostridia, that are insensitive to glyphosate, are increased following exposure to glyphosate. Excessive dopamine, caused by inhibition of dopamine-beta-hydroxylase by Clostridia metabolites, in turn, produces oxidative species that damage neuronal Krebs cycle enzymes, neuronal mitochondria, and neuronal structural elements such as the neurofibrils.