Category Archives: my brother

Could a cause of autism be cutting the umbilical cord too soon?

Today we have a guest post from publisher Jeff Gerke of Marcher Lord Press:

There is growing scientific and theoretical support in the medical community for the idea that autism is caused during delivery/birth.

Now, no one knows for sure yet what causes autism. For years, I have been told that a cause, if ever determined, will end up being no single factor, no magic bullet, but actually a large and confusing mess of factors, causes, and genetic predispositions. Okay, fine. However, I urge you to keep reading.

My son is autistic. He turns 12 next month and is high-functioning, but he is definitely autistic. He also had oxygen issues when he was delivered. Actually, he was okay right away, but then quickly he got blue, and they whisked him away. Everyone in the birthing suite got ominously quiet. Then it seemed he was okay…until the autism emerged years later.

I keep going back to that moment in my mind. Over the years I’ve done a little digging about the effects of oxygen deprivation, like with someone who has been revived from drowning or asphyxiation. I was struck by how similar those effects are to the symptoms of autism. Without oxygen- and iron-rich blood, parts of the brain develop lesions on them and begin to die.

I’d read a doctor’s article saying that certain populations have almost no autism. The two groups he talked about were the Amish and Somalis. Some of you can tell me if it’s true that Amish have very few cases of autism, because I don’t know. The doctor also noted that the midwives in these communities do not rush to clamp or cut the umbilical cord during delivery. But Somali women who give birth in American hospitals have the same rate of autism as the rest of the American population. He theorized that there might be a connection between cord clamping/cutting and autism, and he called for a study.

Then this week I decided to dig a little more deeply. I found over a hundred scientific and medical articles drawing a still-as-yet-theoretical connection between what they call ICC, immediate cord clamping, and autism.

The practice in the West since the 1980s has been to clamp the cord immediately after the baby has taken its first breath. I’ve heard two explanations for this: one, that it’s to prevent medications from the mother from traveling to the newborn, and two, that it has something to do with safety of the mother. But apparently for time immemorial before that, the practice was to not clamp or cut the cord so quickly.

Would it surprise you to learn that the sudden spike in autism coincides with this change?

Of course that’s anecdotal and isn’t enough. There are many other things that began in the 1980s—like the use of fax machines and VCRs, for instance—that probably have nothing to do with the rise in autism. So we can’t conclude anything on that alone, but neither should we discount it.

As I understand it, the placenta is essentially an organ that “belongs” to the baby. The idea that the connection between the two should be severed as soon as possible so as to prevent medicine from the mother getting to the infant seems odd, since I thought it was the baby’s blood (not the mother’s) that was running through the placenta, especially in a full term baby.

At birth, the placenta still has a large portion of the baby’s blood running through it. Indeed, the placenta is still “pulsating” at birth. It’s delivering the baby’s blood and other nutrients (including the oxygen and iron the baby’s blood carries) back into the baby.

ICC effectively cuts the connection between the baby and one of its organs.

It takes all of five minutes after delivery for the placenta to stop pulsating (signaling that it has delivered all its goodness to the baby). And yet the practice in Western hospitals is to clamp that cord immediately after a breath.

Is autism caused by the sudden deprivation of blood, oxygen, and iron that happens when the umbilical cord is clamped before the placenta has finished its job?

Did I stand there and watch my son get autism? Did the doctor—and me, since I cut his cord—give him autism right there in the room? Is that why he looked fine at delivery and then suddenly got blue? Did we give him brain damage?

The symptoms of autism are often hard to see in an infant. How can you tell if a newborn is delayed in language or has odd emotional displays or doesn’t play well with peers? These things develop—or don’t develop—at around age 3 or so, when autism is often detected. If those areas of the brain were damaged at birth, very little oddness would appear until what those areas were supposed to do doesn’t happen when or as it should. (Again I’m struck with the similarity to the effects of oxygen deprivation in adults.)

Here’s my plea: Please tell your OB that you do not want the cord clamped immediately. No ICC. Tell him or her that you do not want the cord clamped until at least 90 seconds after the placenta has stopped pulsating.

Five minutes. It’s all I’m asking.

Would I have waited 5 minutes to prevent my son from having autism?

Is there an autism epidemic?

There are plenty of people these days who think there’s no autism epidemic. There have always been this many folks with serious impairments, the theory goes, but they were undiagnosed before. Diagnosis has gotten so much better that they’re finding them everywhere. One in 100 of those being born now, in fact.

But I think there is an autism epidemic, and I’ll tell you why. Since the autism epidemic is now at least 20 years old (I peg the start at 1990), there are fewer people with accurate memory of severe autistics in the population from before that time. Of course we all remember odd ducks; they have always been with us. But what about the seriously impaired ones? They should have made up about 1 in 200 of the population from back then, undiagnosed, assuming that half of the autistics being diagnosed now are severe, and the other half are more like odd ducks.

I am one with a clear memory of the situation involving my autistic brother, born in 1955, not speaking until he was 5 years old. He appeared to us to be one of a kind. We were shocked to eventually find out there were others like him, and we didn’t find this out till he was in his late thirties or forties. In fact he was 1 in 10,000 or something like that.

You think I’m just a biased person so you’ll dismiss me? There’s someone else who remembers too. In our local newspaper, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, there was an article yesterday about a 38-year-old autistic man, born in 1973. The reporter, Sarah Bryan Miller, quoted the autistic man’s mother, Phyllis Kuhns:

“I was suspecting there was something wrong, I guess, by the time he was 2, but I didn’t know it was autism. He started out talking at the usual age, saying ‘mama’ and ‘dada,’ and then he stopped.

“He would be very animated, and then he’d get this faraway look on his face, like he wasn’t all there, like he was somewhere else mentally,” she added. With no diagnosis, he was shifted around to different schools in the Special School District. “I think he was about 8 when they finally decided (autism) might be it.”

Clearly he also seemed to be one of a kind. It’s not like that at all now; special ed classes are full of autistic kids who can’t function in the regular classroom. The autism epidemic is real, folks. Things are seriously wrong. Something in our environment is poisoning our children, at least 1 in 100 of them. Aren’t you worried about what it might be? Aren’t you worried that the FDA is not protecting the public, but rather the corporations that churn out untested chemicals and barely-tested medicines and vaccines?

Oddly enough, my brother and this man David Kuhns both have prodigious musical gifts. David plays classical music on his church’s organ, while my brother plays various instruments in a band for autistic savants, the Hi Hopes, in the Los Angeles area. My brother played the organ as one of his first instruments.

Read more:

HiHopes, an amazing band


This is a picture of the HiHopes, a band including several prodigiously gifted and otherwise handicapped people. My autistic brother is standing next to the man with dark glasses.

My brother moved to the Los Angeles area more than 15 years ago to be in this band. Music is what he lives for. He plays bass guitar in the band, but can also play the keyboard and miscellaneous other instruments such as the trumpet and the viola.  He can listen to a song and then play it, in all its different parts. Unlike the others, he can read music. The people at Hope University (which runs the HiHopes) say he is a musical savant. There are several others in the band too, people who may have trouble speaking but who play the most amazing music.

The band usually plays oldies, music from ’60s and ’70s. They play at parties and weddings around southern California.

My brother also has a part-time job working in a warehouse. He drives himself there and back–it’s a long way, maybe an hour’s commute.  He lives by himself. I’m very proud of my autistic brother, who did not speak until he was 5 years old.  Now he’s 52.

The HiHopes are having their annual fundraiser concert and auction Saturday, May 1, in Anaheim, California. If you are interested in finding out more about this unique ministry to the gifted, check out the Hope University website at