AUTISM FIBROMYALGIA CONNECTION

Discussion in 'Fibromyalgia Main Forum' started by darude, Nov 15, 2006.

  1. darude

    darude New Member

    SUTHERLIN — For years, the Tenbrooks searched for clues that might answer why so many of the family’s children suffer from neurological disorders.

    Many of the family’s youngsters of the past two generations suffer from a mild form of autism known as Asperger’s Syndrome, and some also suffer from disorders such as fibromyalgia, cerebral palsy, bipolar disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or a combination of them.

    “Everyone of my brother’s and sisters’ kids have neurological problems,” says Lisa Tenbrook, “and we didn’t know why.”

    But then Tenbrook read an October News-Review article and learned that Sutherlin’s Red Rock Road, which was built with tailings from the nearby Bonanza mine, is a public health risk because of arsenic and mercury in the tailings.

    Tenbrook, 44, who now lives in Eugene and is the mother of three boys — all of whom have Asperger’s Syndrome or multiple disorders — suddenly had an epiphany: Her family home’s driveway on Nonpareil Road was built with Bonanza mine’s tailings. Was she contaminated with mercury and arsenic by playing on the driveway? And did she pass the contaminants down to her children?

    “It’s my belief that I had the poison in me and passed it on when I was pregnant,” she said. “Our driveway was built with the same stuff Red Rock Road was.”

    Tenbrook shares her conviction with other family members. Her 26-year-old niece, Rena Bjerke, grew up in the same house, played in the same red dirt on the same long, circular driveway, and has children with neurological disorders.

    Bjerke’s four boys, who range from 7 years of age down to 18 months old, either have Asperger’s Syndrome or are suspected of eventually being diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome. The older two, Andrew, 7, and Anthony, 6, have cerebral palsy. All of Bjerke’s sons — who share her and her husband’s last names, Smith-Bjerke — were born premature.

    Bjerke suffers from fibromyalgia — a painful muscular condition caused by a lack of dopamine in the central nervous system — and lupus, a chronic inflammatory disease that mainly affects the joints and skin. She said she always suspected other reasons besides genetics for her and her children’s disorders. Her mother’s generation only had one family member who suffered from a neurological disorder, a second cousin with fibromyalgia, whose mother also grew up in the same house on Nonpareil Road as Bjerke’s mother, Debra Hash.



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    Debra Hash helps pull down the shirt of her nephew Andrew Smith-Bjerke, 7, in Sutherlin last week. Andrew suffers from celebral palsy and must use a wheelchair.
    JON AUSTRIA / N-R staff photo

    “For years we’ve thought there’s got to be some reason why something’s wrong,” Bjerke said.

    Joanne Tenbrook, who is the mother of Lisa Tenbrook and Debra Hash, recalls her father-in-law building the driveway in the 1950s with truckloads of tailings from the mine. Back then, she says, many people in the Sutherlin community built their driveways with rocks from the mine because it was free. She said no one was aware of the dangers of arsenic and mercury contaminants in the tailings.

    “We really didn’t know anything about it,” she said.

    Though the driveway was long and circled the entire house, the Tenbrooks suspect another source of mercury contamination — pure elemental mercury that the Tenbrooks played with as kids.

    “I can recall watching my youngest sister as she poured a drop of mercury onto her bare hand and showed me how neat it looked as it rolled around on her palm,” Hash wrote in an e-mail.

    In the Tenbrook’s garage, stored in a mason jar and left behind by their grandfather, who was a Bonanza miner, was a handful of mercury. The sisters recall forming mercury into ball shapes and throwing it against the ground and watching it shatter, then forming back together again.



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    Joanne Tenbrook hugs her grandchildren in her Sutherlin home. Lisa Tenbrook’s child Tyler Inbody, 8, at left, has been diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome, Bipolar Affective Disorder, Pervasive Development Disorder-Not Otherwise Specified, and Sensory Integration Disorder. Arik Smith-Bjerke, 4, is suspected of having Asperger’s Syndrome and other disorders, but is too young to be diagnosed.
    JON AUSTRIA / N-R staff photo

    “We didn’t know,” Lisa Tenbrook said of the dangers of playing with mercury.

    Kate Toepel, a toxicologist with the Oregon Department of Human Services, which issued an October public health assessment for Red Rock Road due to soil samples that revealed arsenic contamination, said there isn’t a strong connection between mercury exposure and children born years later with neurological disorders. Exposure to mercury, she said, is most harmful to children during pregnancy and most often happens when the pregnant mother eats mercury-contaminated fish.

    Otherwise, Toepel said there isn’t a way to confirm whether a child is affected by mercury years after the parent’s exposure. However, she said playing with elemental mercury is “concerning” and that she would consider it “high exposure.”

    Lisa Tenbrook said she has tried to get tested for mercury contamination but has been told there isn’t a test for long-term exposure.

    Toepel said that concern for mercury contamination in the Sutherlin area is for eating fish, and concern for arsenic contamination is for drinking arsenic-contaminated water.

    She added that she suspects genetics play more of a role in the Tenbrooks’ diagnoses with Asperger’s Syndrome and that she has never heard of a connection between cerebral palsy and contamination with mercury or arsenic.

    Meeting set ...
    WHAT: Red Rock Road information session by Oregon Department of Human Services and a presentation on its findings.

    WHEN: 5:30 to 6:30 p.m., information session; 6:30 to 7:30 p.m., presentation.

    WHY: The agency hopes area residents with concerns for Red Rock Road and mercury and arsenic contamination attend the meeting and share information with officials.

    However, Toepel said from a public health point of view, the Department of Human Services is very interested in speaking to the Tenbrooks and other families in Sutherlin who have lived near Red Rock Road, or whose driveways were built with tailings from the Bonanza mine.

    Bjerke and Lisa Tenbrook hope people with similar experiences in the Sutherlin area come forward and will attend a Wednesday night meeting so more might be learned about their children’s disorders.

    “We’re all interested in the meeting,” said Rita Tenbrook, Lisa’s sister.


  2. darude

    darude New Member

  3. wish_to_be_healthy

    wish_to_be_healthy New Member

    I think there is a link...we have this clustering in my family...
  4. wish_to_be_healthy

    wish_to_be_healthy New Member

    I wanted to bump this to you...this is one of the articles that I was talking about on my thread...I have seen other ones also...

    Thought you might be interested with your Psych studies,

    Suz
  5. darude

    darude New Member