Imagine a woman who went to medical school at age 39 to save her daughter from drugs wrongly prescribed for bladder infections. Imagine a woman who, armed with her new medical degree, decided to challenge decades of mainstream medical views on attention deficit disorder, autism and ear and respiratory infections. I'm not talking about a fictional heroine here: Meet Dr. Mary Ann Block, bestselling author and founder of the internationally-renowned Block Center.
The Block Center is the epitome of osteopathic medicine in action. The osteopathic philosophy states that "the body has an inherent ability to heal itself." With this in mind, the Block Center gets to the real roots of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, autism spectrum disorders and other "psychiatric labels" and then helps the child or adult's body to naturally heal itself. As Dr. Block says, these labels that we call "diseases" are actually symptoms, rather than psychiatric disorders requiring medication.
"If you've got heavy metal toxicity, then you don't have autism, you have the symptoms caused by heavy metal toxicity. If you have allergies or blood sugar problems affecting your behavior, you don't have ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder). The diagnoses should be allergies and hypoglycemia, so there's a lot of misdiagnosis going on. The doctors are not spending the time to find out what's really going on with these kids," Dr. Block said in a phone interview.
These misdiagnoses then add to the children's problems, rather than relieving them. Instead of receiving treatment for their real disorders -- whether they are food allergies, hypoglycemia or heavy metal toxicity -- mainstream doctors put children diagnosed with ADHD, for example, on Ritalin and other pharmaceutical drugs. These pharmaceuticals keep children subdued in the classroom and at home, but as Dr. Block cautions, a quieter, medicated child isn't necessarily a child who is learning better. For example, let's say a child who is allergic to chocolate is medicated with an ADHD drug but is still eating chocolate, the child will still have difficulty concentrating and paying attention, even though he or she is no longer "acting out."
By contrast, the Block Center treats the underlying problems behind attention and behavior disorders, autism spectrum disorders, asthma, fatigue, gastrointestinal disorders and many more, rather than just covering up the symptoms. The Block Center gives parents the opportunity to reside at hotels near the Dallas-Fort Worth center and fully immerse themselves in finding and treating the real problems behind their child's (or their own) difficulties. For attention and behavioral problems, for example, the Block Center offers a four-day, comprehensive program that involves the physician, parents and of course the young patients themselves. This program uses patient evaluations -- such as allergy testing, mercury testing and blood analysis -- to discover what physical problem is negatively affecting the patient's behavior. Then, once the physician finds the real problem, the family can learn real solutions, such as diet changes or removing mercury and other heavy metals from the patient's body.
Though the Block Center offers treatment solutions, Dr. Block sagely advises that prevention is always more effective than treatment. Furthermore, the younger you start protecting your child from the environmental toxins that are responsible for the current high incidence of autism spectrum and attention-behavioral disorders, the more successful your preventative measures will be.
In fact, the most successful prevention program will start at birth. According to a 1994 Pediatrics article written by Professor Tracey J. Woodruff, et al., between three and eight percent of all babies born in the United States per year will someday be affected by the disease we know as ADHD, autism spectrum disorders or mental retardation. Those statistics are unfortunately high, but thanks to the advice of Dr. Block and other experts, here are some ways you can prevent your baby from being one of them.
1. Breastfeed -- Not only is breastfeeding the most economical way of feeding your baby, it's also the healthiest. According to Dr. Block, nursing your baby during his or her first year of life will drastically reduce your child's risk of developing food allergies, which are a common cause of behavioral problems such as ADHD.
2. Educate yourself about vaccinations -- School and health officials often give parents the impression that they are required to vaccinate their children; yet, according to the laws of many states, this is not the case. The sad fact is that known neurotoxins like mercury and other heavy metals are used in many childrens' vaccines and may likely be linked to autism spectrum disorders and ADHD. By educating yourself about the pros and cons of these diseases, you can make an informed decision about whether or not your children should be vaccinated.
3. Provide your children with nutritional supplements -- Nutritional deficiencies can result in problems with attention and behavior, according to Dr. Block.
4. Make sure that your child takes part in physical activity requiring hand-eye coordination -- Dr. Block and countless other experts agree that physical activity is essential to a child's development, a factor that is often undermined by watching television excessively.
5. Eat organic food -- Exposure to pesticides can seriously damage your child's nervous system. Cows' milk is especially risky due to its levels of DDT, dieldrin, heptachlor, hexachlorobenzene, antibiotics and recombinant bovine growth hormone. It should be avoided, unless your child only drinks rBGH-free organic skim milk.
6. Beware of lead -- According to Professor Woodruff of the EPA's article on environmentally-induced childhood diseases, lead exposure is linked to hyperactivity, impulsivity and attention problems -- in other words, the symptoms commonly attributed to ADHD.
7. Avoid pesticide use in the home -- According to a federal study reported by Kathleen Fackelmann in USA Today, children have twice the body levels of chlorpyrifos as adults, probably because of the amount of time they play on the floor. Chlorpyrifos is a type of insecticide that is linked to nervous system damage.
If your child has been diagnosed with ADHD, remember that pharmaceutical drugs aren't the only solution available. Dr. Block's newly updated book, No More ADHD, will show you the 10 steps you can take to improve "ADHD" symptoms without pharmaceutical drugs. For additional information on the Block Center, including how to schedule an appointment, please visit The Block Center's web site.
In medical school, we also learned about the Osteopathic Philosophy, "the body has an inherent ability to heal itself." Sometimes the body needs assistance to do its job. That's when, as an osteopathic physician, I help remove barriers to healing and support the body in its work.
"Dr. Block is an Osteopathic Physician," About the Block Center, The Block Center
"If you've got heavy metal toxicity, then you don't have autism, you have the symptoms caused by heavy metal toxicity. If you have allergies or blood sugar problems affecting your behavior, you don't have ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder). The diagnoses should be allergies and hypoglycemia, so there's a lot of misdiagnosis going on. The doctors are not spending the time to find out what's really going on with these kids."
Phone interview with Dr. Mary Ann Block. Aug. 22, 2005.
Mercury is a known neuro-toxin which can cross the blood brain barrier and concentrate in the brain. Alarming amounts of mercury are used in children's vaccines. Many parents report first seeing their child's autistic symptoms after a vaccination. The U.S. Public Health Service and The American Academy of Pediatrics support the FDA`s directive to eliminate mercury (Thimerosal) from vaccines. At The Block Center, we evaluate for the presence of mercury and other heavy metals, then remove the metals.
Dr. Mary Ann Block's Approach to Autism Spectrum Disorders, The Block Center
Researchers estimate that between 3 percent and 8 percent of the infants born each year in the United States are or will be affected by neurodevelopmental disorders such as attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), mental retardation, or autism. Neurodevelopmental disorders may result from exposure of the fetus or young child to environmental contaminants. A child’s brain is vulnerable to adverse impacts from some environmental toxicants during its developmental process.
"Trends in Environmentally Related Childhood Illnesses" by Prof. Tracey J. Woodruff, et al, Pediatrics April 2004, pages 1135-36
Whole Milk - (eg. Borden or Lucerne)
Unlabeled Toxic Ingredients
DDT, Carcinogenic; xenoestrogen.
DIELDRIN, Carcinogenic; xenoestrogen.
HEPTACHLOR, Carcinogenic; neurotoxic; reproductive toxin; xenoestrogen.
HEXACHLOROBENZENE, Carcinogenic; neurotoxic; reproductive toxin.
ANTIBIOTICS: Some are carcinogenic, cause allergies and drug resistance.
RECOMBINANT BOVINE GROWTH HORMONE and IGF-1: Also, risk factor for breast, colon and prostate cancers.
rBGH-free Organic skim milk
"The 'Dirty Dozen' Consumer Products," Avoidable Exposures: Consumers by the Cancer Prevention Coalition, 1995. The Cancer Prevention Coalition
As noted above, studies have found relationships between behavioral problems -- including attention problems, hyperactivity, and impulsivity -- and exposures to lead and PCBs.
"Trends in Environmentally Related Childhood Illnesses" by Prof. Tracey J. Woodruff, et al, Pediatrics April 2004, pages 1137
The CDC report identified higher-than-expected levels of an insecticide called chlorpyrifos in kids. Children had body levels of chlorpyrifos that were twice as high as adults, a finding that raised a red flag for environmental health expert Lynn Goldman of Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. Chlorpyrifos has been linked to nervous system damage. Children get higher levels in their bodies because they play on the floor, where insecticides settle after being applied in the home, Goldman says.
"Toxin Study Raises Alarm about Levels in Kids' Blood" by Kathleen Fackelmann, USA Today 2/3/2003, page 14B