MITOXIC- Why Anesthesia may not be good for any of us, especially Mitochondrial disease Patients


After hearing a friend tell me the story this week of her daughter’s pre-op surgery experience at a major Children’s Hospital (ranking among the top 10 in the country), I knew that this post had been in my draft folder waaay too long and it was time to publish it, in hopes that it will make a positive difference in another child’s life.

My friend’s story:

” There was an interesting moment when I was speaking with the anesthesiologist who was probably 60+ years old. I asked specifically what drugs they would use. He said that they’d start off with nitrous oxide. I told him that she couldn’t have nitrous because of an MTHFR genetic snp, And he looked at me like I had two heads. So did the 20 something anesthesia resident but she started googling it on her phone as we were talking. They left the room and came back and said there was another drug that they could use. Then there were several residents med students who were pretty surprised that I knew about this genetic susceptibility & curious to know more.”

I am convinced my friend saved her daughter’s life with her knowledge and her willingness to advocate for her daughter in that moment. In our journey, I have come across so many parents who have had children who react adversely to anesthesia, interestingly enough many of them NOW have a diagnosis of mito, autism, developmental delays, seizure disorders and neurological complications.

Anesthesia is necessary. This post is not anti-anesthesia. But I believe, like with so many other exposures in our environment, that there are reasons to be cautious with this group of powerful chemical agent.

A while ago, this article came across my news feed:

“Researchers from Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center report June 5 the Annals of Neurology that testing in laboratory mice shows anesthesia’s neurotoxic effects depend on the age of brain neurons – not the age of the animal undergoing anesthesia, as once thought.” (emphasis added)

And even though this article is over a year old, I found it interesting to read the comments from mothers of children who had undergone anesthesia many times, some as many as 20-30 times in their short 5-10 year lifespans. They commented saying that no one had ever warned them of the dangers of anesthesia or that it could have any negative impact on their child’s health. My jaw was on the floor. Why? Because ever since enteringthe mitochondrial community, there are 3 commonalities that I have seen in a strikingly LARGE percentage of mito patients: Adverse, idiopathic, unexplained, “weird” , unheard of reactions  to: 1) medications (including supplements), 2) vaccines, and 3) ANESTHESIA.

When I dig into the literature, I quickly find that I am not the only person to have made this observation, and I am very grateful for the individuals who have dedicated their careers to studying the impact of anesthesia on humans, especially those with mitochondrial disease. Below is a recap of some of my research and literature searches on how anesthesia impacts different groups of individuals including those with mitochondrial disease, those with autism, young children and all of us.

Children and Anesthesia

Anesthesia Research: Impact On Children And The Developing Brain

All of the anesthesia gases that are used (sevoflurane, isoflurane, desflurane, nitrous oxide), and common IV medicines like propofol and midazolam all cause injury in the neonatal animal models of the developing brain. Opioid medications such as morphine or fentanyl, and the newer sedative agent dexmedetomidine, have not been shown to cause this injury thus far, although more research is needed.

Use of anesthetic agents in neonates and young children.

 Animal studies suggest that neurodegeneration, with possible cognitive sequelae, is a potential long-term risk of anesthetics in neonatal and young pediatric patients. The existing nonclinical data implicate not only NMDA-receptor antagonists, but also drugs that potentiate gamma-aminobutyric acid signal transduction, as potentially neurotoxic to the developing brain. The potential for the combination of drugs that have activity at both receptor systems or that can induce more or less neurotoxicity is not clear; however, recent nonclinical data suggest that some combinations may be more neurotoxic than the individual components.

Mechanistic Insights into Neurotoxicity Induced by Anesthetics in the Developing Brain

Compelling evidence has shown that exposure to anesthetics used in the clinic can cause neurodegeneration in the mammalian developing brain, but the basis of this is not clear. Neurotoxicity induced by exposure to anesthestics in early life involves neuroapoptosis and impairment of neurodevelopmental processes such as neurogenesis, synaptogenesis and immature glial development. These effects may subsequently contribute to behavior abnormalities in later life.

Autism and Anesthesia

Thinking Out Loud- Anesthesia and Autism

I am the only co-founder of TMR whose child’s autism was triggered by anesthesia.    My son’s story mimics the all too familiar vaccine-injury stories which seem to be multiplying in droves.  The only difference?  His regression occurred after an elective surgery I will regret the rest of my life.

After learning about the chemical components of anesthesia and how they affect glutathione, methylation, and metabolic pathways, I feel strongly that our ASD community needs education and awareness on the topic.  Why?  Because many of our children will need surgery in their lifetimes.   Many of them will have to be put under for dental procedures.  Is there a way to navigate a necessary chemical exposure so as to minimize side-effects and potential regressions?  Watch as I discuss anesthesia and our ASD children with my hero, Sym Rankin.

Risk of Anesthesia Regression in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder and Mitochondrial Dysfunction

Children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) have a range of medical problems involving many organ systems. A subset of children with ASD hasve abnormal mitochondrial energy production and function that contributes to their physical, cognitive, and behavioral impairments. The presence of mitochondrial dysfunction increases the risk for potential damage to the brain, which is dependent on oxidative metabolism. This risk is more pronounced during procedures that require anesthesia. Because ASD children often undergo medical procedures (like endoscopies, adenoidectomies, tonsillectomies, and ear tube placement) requiring anesthesia, regression with anesthesia is of particular concern for the subset of children with ASD and mitochondrial dysfunction.

Anesthesia and Autistic Individuals

Recently published research supports the potential for problems.3 A retrospective study based on medical and school records from over 5,000 children born between 1976 and 1982 in Olmstead County, Minnesota, found that one exposure to anesthesia was not harmful. More than one, however, doubled the risk that a child would be identified as having a learning disability before the age of 19. That risk increased with a longer duration of the anesthetic. The exposures were between birth and four years of age: a very critical time of brain development.

The anesthetics primarily used in the procedures under review in the Olmsted County study were halothane and nitrous oxide. Halothane is a highly fat-soluble drug that is difficult for the liver to metabolize. Nitrous oxide can deactivate methionine synthase, which is a B12-dependent enzyme important in the methylation cycle. What we can learn from that study is that administering a fat-soluble toxin, followed by inhibition of DNA methylation, might result in “learning disabilities.” Although use of halothane and nitrous oxide is not as common as it used to be, it is not a great leap to hypothesize that use of similar chemicals and toxins might play a role in triggering or exacerbating manifestations of ASD.

As an anesthetic provider, I consider it part of my mission to help educate my colleagues and to help them understand that our children are sick – not just autistic. That is also my mission as a parent, as it is the mission of all parents.

Toxic Agents- Recap of Society for Pediatric Anesthesia Lecture

Dr. Maynes began his lecture by suggesting that anesthesiologists need to take a holistic look at how our interventions impact our patients’ physiology and metabolism. Focusing on the mitochondria as a mediator of cellular physiology, he reviewed its critical role in many cellular pathways including the cellular stress response, aging and neurodegenerative diseases, and the generation of reactive oxygen species as a non-pathologic signaling pathway.

He next noted that there are many different points in the electron transport chain where multiple anesthetic agents influence mitochondrial activity, while these drugs can impact mitochondrial integrity as well. For example, studies have shown that exposure to one MAC hour of isoflurane alters mitochondrial morphology, exposure to ketamine decreases mitochondrial biomass, isoflurane, propofol, ketamine, and midazolam can alter mitochondrial membrane polarization, and sevoflurane can affect mitochondrial fusion and induce protein misfolding.

In addition, various anesthetics can induce changes in mitochondrial DNA, and these changes in the mitochondrial genome can impact cell function as well. While opioids, in general, have less effect on mitochondrial function, Dr. Maynes pointed out that morphine is a specific inhibitor of isocitrate dehydrogenase (IDH-1), an enzyme involved in the conversion of isocitrate to alpha-ketoglutarate in the citric acid cycle. Importantly, mutations in IDH-1 affect DNA methylation, providing a potential link between the morphine we routinely administer and changes in DNA methylation, a finding not uncommon in various cancers.

Moving on, he reported that autism is the most prevalent secondary diagnosis in children undergoing an anesthetic at Sick Kids, while evidence of “atypical” mitochondrial deficiency is present in approximately 40% of children with autism, suggesting that this population of children may be particularly sensitive to our anesthetic agents.

MTHFR and Anesthesia

When Nitrous Oxide is No Laughing Matter

Nitrous oxide inhibits the activity of methionine synthetase, which converts homocysteine to methionine, raising homocysteine levels. It has been suggested that N2O be avoided in these patients. There has been a report of a fatal outcome in a patient with type III disease due to compound heterozygosity including a novel MTHFR mutation (1755 G→A), which was inherited in concert with two common MTHFR polymorphisms, both of which are associated with diminished enzyme activity.(11) This previously undiagnosed child had exposure to N2O twice within four days. Twenty-five days after the first exposure seizures and apnea developed, with hypotonia and areflexia.

Death was from a respiratory arrest on postoperative day 46. Presumably the N2O induced inhibition of methionine synthetase (see below) in addition to the genetic defect in tetrahydrofolate reductase and led to death secondary to methionine deficiency.

Adverse Effect of Nitrous Oxide in a Child with 5,10-Methylenetetrahydrofolate Reductase Deficiency

“patients with a diagnosis of severe MTHFR deficiency should not receive nitrous oxide as anesthesia. In the case of emergency procedures, patients whose clinical presentation fits that of severe MTHFR deficiency, even if the disorder has not been diagnosed, should also not receive nitrous oxide. In the case of elective procedures, patients whose clinical presentation fits that of severe MTHFR deficiency should be evaluated, and the diagnosis should be ruled out before anesthesia with nitrous oxide is contemplated.”

General anesthesia and methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase deficiency.

Methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase (MTHFR) deficiency is an autosomal recessive disorder with a spectrum of manifestations including neurological symptoms, premature arteriosclerosis, and venous and arterial thrombosis. Most patients are heterozygous for multiple MTHFR substitutions; small minorities are homozygous for mutations at this locus. Among these mutations, the C677T polymorphism is the most deleterious. Nitrous oxide use in anesthesia leads to significant increases in plasma homocysteine. We present a patient undergoing urgent surgery with a preoperative diagnosis of homozygous MTHFR deficiency.

Anesthesia and Your Genetics- Blog Talk Radio Show: Dr. Jess Armine

Nurse anesthetist, Sym Cusimano Rankin, RN, CRNA witnessed an alarming increase in chronic and autoimmune diseases; and as a mother, she has seen her son’s journey of recovery from autism. Autistic children often undergo medical and dental procedures requiring anesthesia. All anesthetic agents have relative risks and benefits. Special caution is warranted with agents that effect methylation and mitochondrial function

Mitochondrial Disease and Anesthesia

Anesthesia and Mitochondrial Cytopathies

An increased awareness is needed whenever a person with a mitochondrial cytopathy is contemplating or undergoing a surgical procedure. By virtue of the illness itself, there are greater risks involved with every medical intervention. The safest anesthetic is not known and the choice of anesthetic must be individualized to the patient’s particular needs. Although anesthetic agents may play a contributing factor in causing an adverse event associated with surgery, the illness, the stress of that illness, the surgical procedure and concurrent infections may play a larger role in causing neurologic deterioration.

Mitochondrial disorders and general anaesthesia: a case series and review

Meticulous individual assessment is important due to the diverse nature of mitochondrial disease and, as with any surgical case, careful attention to fluid management is essential. Preoperative fasting in this patient group may be particularly hazardous as they have a tendency to develop lactic acidosis which will be exacerbated by periods of metabolic stress such as that seen during surgical procedures and perioperative fasting. We recommend the routine, perioperative use of lactate free i.v. fluids in all patients with mitochondrial disease undergoing GA (such as 5% dextrose–0.9% saline). I.V. fluids should be commenced during the preoperative fasting period to allow maintenance of normoglycaemia, as excessive glycolytic oxidation of glucose in this patient group may increase plasma lactate levels.

As may be expected, those patients with more severe clinical disease seem to be at greater risk after GA and further work should be directed towards Leigh’s disease in particular, especially those with documented variable respiratory drive.

Mitoaction’s Webinar on Anesthesia

Anesthesia poses specific risks for children and adults with mitochondrial disease. Join  us this month with Dr. Andre Mattman from Vancouver General Hospital to learn more about risks, precautions and recommendations for anesthesia use in mitochondrial disease patients.

Anesthetic Considerations in Mitochondrial Disease- UMD

All clinical manifestations of MD, including seizures, arrhythmias, cardiac dysfunction, myopathy, and endocrinopathies, can be worsened by trauma, illness, or surgical stress. Although the prevalence of MD is high (Skladal et al 2003), the heterogeneity of disease phenotypes makes clinical trials difficult. No controlled trials of different anesthetic agents or techniques have been conducted in patients with MD. Adverse effects on mitochondrial function of many agents used in anesthesia have been documented in vitro, but there are few reports of adverse events in vivo. Even agents like propofol, for which adverse effects have been reported both in vitro and in vivo, have been used successfully in isolated cases. Thus, the theoretical effects of any agent need to be considered in the general context of any one patient’s medical history. It is important to realize that the absence of published reports of adverse effects with any given agent does not mean that the agent is safe to use but may simply reflect a publication bias.

Nitrous Oxide and Monkeys & Methionine: Pathogenesis of subacute combined degeneration: a result of methyl group deficiency.

Four pairs of monkeys were maintained in an atmosphere of nitrous oxide under conditions which had previously been shown to produce subacute combined degeneration (SCD) of the spinal cord. The diet of one of each pair was supplemented with methionine. In every case the monkey with the unsupplemented diet became ataxic at around 10 weeks and the disorder progressed over a period of 2-3 weeks until the animal was moribund. During this period there was no detectable clinical change in the monkeys receiving methionine supplementation. Microscopical examination of the spinal cord and peripheral nerves of the unsupplemented monkeys showed the classical changes of SCD. The histological changes correlated with the clinical observations. Sections form the methionine-supplemented monkeys showed no change or only slight changes. These results suggest that, in these animals, inability to resynthesise methionine from homocysteine leads to SCD. It seems probable that the primary lesion producing SCD in human beings with pernicious anaemia is also inability to maintain methionine biosynthesis.

I will end with another story from a mom. As parents we MUST become our child’s best advocate. NO ONE knows them better than we do, as their parents.

“My son went in to Children’s Hospital today for his tongue tie surgery. And wouldn’t you know it, he gets a surgeon from Europe who takes me aside to discuss him not being vaccinated. He says: “since he’s 2, and you chose not to vaccinate him, his immune system is very strong and he will be able to process the anesthesia so don’t worry mom, you did good.” There are doctors out there who know the truth and support us “whacko” parents. And he was right. My son flew through like a champ and within minutes of waking up, could walk completely steadily and had zero side effects of the anesthesia.”

Posted in Autism, Methylation, Mitochondrial Disease, Mitoxic, Toxins | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Lady A’s Energy Bites- Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Soy Free and Low Salicylate

unnamedA while back a dear friend (miss you e.b.)

made this recipe and brought it to a recipe snack swap.

They were so yummy! Tonight I am going to a healthy living potluck and

I came across the recipe yesterday, and wondered if I could modify it for Lady A.

Here is what I came up with:


  • 1 cup Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Oatmeal
  • ½ cup cashew butter (low salicylate)
  • ⅓ cup maple syrup
  • ½ cup pumpkin seeds- w/Sea salt (we like this brand)
  • ½ cup ground flaxseed (in a clean supplement form here)
  • 1 tsp Frontier Alcohol-free vanilla
  • Optional – mini chocolate chips (we omitted these for Lady A’s version, since chocolate is not on the approved food list at the moment)unnamed-3

Mix everything together in a bowl and refrigerate for about an hour.

Remove and roll into bite-sized balls! Pop one in your mouth and ENJOY!

unnamed-2Rolling tip- I rolled the balls in plastic wrap (non BPA!) because when I used my bare hands the stickiness of the mixture kept making the balls fall apart…. oops!


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Mommy Book Report: Nutrient Power- Heal your Biochemistry and Heal your Brain

A few weeks ago I finished reading this book:

Nutrient Power- Heal Your Biochemistry and Heal Your Brain

written by William Walsh PhD

Earlier this year our daughter had an adverse reaction to a nutritional supplement that we were trying with her (based on her medical team’s recommendation) in an effort to improve her health.  Unfortunately, after this happened, there were few clues or explanations as to what or why her response was the way it was. In one of the many facebook groups I belong to, filled with incredibly astute parents with backgrounds in engineering, medicine, law, and even biochemistry, I stumbled upon this post that someone had linked to. These words (from Dr. Walsh) jumped off the page at me:

“There is increasing evidence that folates act as deacetylase inhibitors that enhance gene expression of SERT reuptake proteins known as “transporters”. Serotonin reuptake is a far more dominant factor than the amount of serotonin present. Folate supplements (together with B-12) are very effective in improving methylation in most undermethylated persons. However, folate supplements should be avoided for undermethylated patients who suffer from depression, anxiety, or other mental disorders that involve low activity at serotonin receptors.”

and this:

“The benefits from improving methylation are overwhelmed by weakened serotonin neurotransmission for these persons. Methylfolate supplements are a clever approach for coping with undermethylation in persons with MTHFR enzyme weaknesses. However the potency of methylfolate has been greatly exaggerated. The methylation cycle spins constantly with more than a million methylation reactions per second. The methylation cycle somewhat resembles the Indianapolis Speedway with traffic constantly spinning around the track. Methylfolate is what I call a “suicidal” nutrient, that is, a nutrient that acts only once. After a single pass through a portion of the cycle, methylfolate loses its identity and becomes part of the garden-variety THF pool. Methylfolate is somewhat more effective that folic acid and folinic acid, but is not as effective as advertised. The bottom line is that methylfolate and other folate supplements are very effective in enhancing methylation for autism and other conditions that are not dominated by low serotonin activity.”

My interest was PEAKED and I was interested to learn more. Why? Because until I read this passage, I had never heard ANYONE allude that there may be a group of individuals who methylfolate supplementation may not be ideal for. Off I went to the library to get Dr. Walsh’s book and learn more. I already was well aware of the healing properties of balancing one’s biochemistry, so to assume brain disorders could be healed by balancing this biochemistry also, made perfect sense in my own chemistry (turned biochemistry) brain! ;)

Here are my top 10 takeaways from this book- Many of which I am researching further. This book does contain a biblography full of references, but much of Dr. Walsh’s research seems to have been presented at scientific meetings and in poster presentations that I have not been able to access (since I am not a member of those medical groups or did not attend the meeting).

1. Histamine is inversely proportional to methylation status- ie. High Histamine= undermethylation, low histamine= overmethylation

2. because of #1, Whole Blood Histamine blood test can be used as a measurement of methylation status. (Sam/Sah ratio is also a very reliable measurement for methylation, however this test is difficult to obtain commercially). Whole blood Histamine can be done at Labcorp or Quest.

3. Walsh provides an albeit technical but thorough overview of Epigentics and how they impact Mental Health. He defines (scientifically) terms such as methylation, histone modification and chromatin and how they relate to nutrient therapy and epigenetic disorders including OCD, ASPD, Anorexia, and Autism, to name a few. Chapter 4 is a must read if you are struggling with the nature vs. nurture mentality of genes vs. environment. Clue- It is BOTH.. and how they interact and genes only are NOT our destiny!

4. Schizophrenia- Walsh describes in chapter 5 the 3 Major subtypes of Schizophrenia including over, under methylation and pyrrole disorder. He also give an excellent historical background on the disorder and the theories who have preceded his work. You can hear him speak here about some of his work with schizophrenics:

5.Depression- There are 5 different types of depression that Walsh classifies in his book, rather than the ONE diagnosis of depression that mainstream psychiatry uses which equals one size fits all pharmaceutical= anti-depressant. I am sure you know someone who has done WORSE on an antidepressant Walsh explains why through explaining these different types, based on biochemical markers.

6. Autism- a topic near and dear to so many of our hearts. Walsh presents a list of Biochemical features found in Autism that include: low glutathione, under methyation, elevated blood toxins, copper overload, zinc deficiency, vitamin A deficiency, low magnesium, and deficiency of selenium and cysteine (to name a few). He covers oxidative stress and  shares biochemical therapies that he has found to work with the autistic population that he has worked with including normalization of methyl/acetyl levels and reversal of deviant gene marks. He also provides a strong warning about the use of Risperdal and the lessons we should have learned from Thalidomide babies.

Listen here for more of Walsh speaking about Autism:

7. Walsh shares some of his early volunteer work in Prison with inmates in the 70’s , that is fascinating.  More here. This quote/study was particularly shocking to me-

“Our test group consisted of 24 pairs of brothers who lived in the same household and attended the same school. Each pair consisted of a child with a history of delinquency and violent assaults and a brother with ideal behavior and good academics. In essence we found 24 families with a proverbial child from hell and an all-American boy living in the same family….The samples were coded and blinded to the testing laboratory and the researchers. After breaking the code we learned that the most of the well-behaved controls had the expected levels of the trace metals tested. In contrast, most violent subjects exhibited abnormal levels, especially with respect to copper, zinc, lead, and cadmium. In general, the violent children exhibited higher lead and cadmium levels than did the controls. However the test group was about evenly split between children with elevated Cu/Zn ratios and others with depressed Cu/Zn ratios. Note of the well-behaved children exhibited a Cu/Zn imbalance.”

He describes a second study where 96 extremely violent males and 96 nonviolent male controls from the Chicago area were tested. Half of the violent group was incarcerated and the other was living in society. The findings found 35 violent subjects had elevated Cu/Zn ratios, 57 had low Cu/Zn and the remaining 4 tested normal. 3 non violent had abnormal ratios and 93 did not. This led to research funded by the Violence Research foundation which blinded samples were sent from California Prisons as well as non-violent controls. Walsh’s lab was successful in identifying the CRIMINALS in better than 90% of the cases based on chemistry alone!

Here is a speech he gave on the work he has done with the prison and criminal populations.

And another article he wrote here.

And an article featured in Crime Times on sub-types found in killers and criminals.

And a feature in Science News here.

8. On Walsh’s website, he presents a fascinating School Shooter hypothesis based on the nutritional deficiencies and biochemistry abnormalities he describes in this book- you can read some of his theory here or watch it here:

9. Copper/Zinc imbalance can cause a whole host of mental and medial issues- including Post Partum Depression in new mothers, autism, schizophrenia and aggressive and criminal behavior. This is one of the themes and abnormal biomarkers that can be found throughout this book.

10. Video Cliff note version: well worth 2 hours of your time to listen to this lecture from Dr.Walsh himself.


This book has opened up some BIG doors (or should I sayBIG rabbit holes) for my research. Big clues for our family were found on page 24 and 25 as walsh talks about METHIONINE and FOLATE in a subgroup or people.

Extra: Walsh’s comments about a number of conditions archived from a message board here.


Posted in (Mommy) Book Report, ADHD, Allergies, Autism, Genetics, Medical, Methylation | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Merry Christmas 2014

Babyfoodsteps yearly tradition… to share with you a homemade gift!

You can see our gifts of 4 years past here, here, here and here. Now on to #5!

This year our gift is a Mason Jar Oil Candle.

The inspiration for this gift and project came from here (gotta love pinterest!).


First the materials:

Mason jar with lid

1/8 couplings (Like this)

1/8 nipples (like this, found in the lighting dept of hardware store)

3/8 inch washer (need 2 per lamp, like this)

a brass nut

and a 100% cotton “wick” (like this)

pinecones, pine sprigs, berries, cinnamon sticks


mason jar candle lid


After punching or drilling a hole in the mason jar lid (we found using a center hole punch worked best), assemble the wick holder in the order shown in the photo (coupler, washer, lid, washer, nut, nipple, wick). I tied a knot at the end of the wick to keep it from falling through and tugged on it a bit so it went up into the nipple and stuck.

mason jar candle assembleFill the jars with all things holiday. We chose pinecones, cranberries, cinnamon sticks, pine sprigs and berry sprigs.  Fill the jars with water until you reach the last 1/6 of the jar and then top it off with oil (lamp oil, olive oil, citronella oil, almost any type of burn-able oil will do, we tried canola). Place the lid on and allow the oil to travel up the wick, then light and enjoy!

mason jar candle lit

We packaged these up this year and gave them as gifts to our neighbors and friends! Fun for the holidays and then here are some ideas on other things you can fill it with year round, not to mention and handy thing to have in an emergency when the power is out!

Merry Christmas from Babyfoodsteps! We hope the new year brings health and happiness to you and your family.

mason jar cndle wrapped




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Lady A’s Merry Marshmallow Meringues

Merry Almost Christmas!!

It is cookie exchange time! This year I was bound and determined to make a cookie exchange recipe that was “safe” for Lady A, so that when I was baking for the event I could make extras for her to have a little treat!

I happened across this post on pinterest and I was hooked!


Well needless to say, I lack the skills of a pastry chef in the kitchen, so what should have been real easy for others to “whip up” … took me 4 days, 7 batches and nearly 2 dozen eggs to “perfect” (well that may be stretching it… how about to “come up with something that looked edible!”)

After my first 2 batches looked like green soup… I resorted to YouTube to “teach” my self how to make the perfect meringue cookies!cookies1

This video helped the most:

and I used this method over the double broiler on the stove to incorporate the egg whites and sugar:

 Here is the recipe I used:

4 Egg Whites

1 cup powdered sugar

1/4 tsp cream of tartar

food coloring (natural if desired)

flavor extract (optional omitted for Lady A’s version due to sensitivity to the alcohol in the  extracts, instead we used natural dyed sugars like these.

  1. Pre-Heat oven to 200 degrees. Place egg whites, sugar, and cream of tartar in a bowl. Place bowl over boiling water on the stove (double broiler style- see video above). Whisk vigorously until sugar dissolved. Remove from heat.
  2. Using the whisk attachment on a hand mixer, mix on medium high until egg whites become bright white but still runny. Continue to beat to form stiff peaks.cookies2
  3. Place mixture into device like this  (or icing bag with tip) with large star tip. Pipe cookies onto baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Make cookies about 1 inch in width, 2 inches high and place 1 inch apart on baking sheet. Sprinkle with the multi color sprinkles.
  4. Cook for 2 hours. After 2 hours, turn off oven, open door slightly and let sit in oven an additional 2 hours.
  5. Enjoy!


We are calling these Merry Marshmallow Meringues because we have not found a “clean” marshmallows yet for Lady A to have, so since these look (and taste!) like crunchy marshmallows we thought it was fitting!

She Loves them! Two Thumbs up!

Mommy thought about calling them Merry Methionine Meringues because egg whites are one of the highest sources of dietary methionine… but more on that later!


Posted in Recipes, Snacks, Sugar and other Sweetners | 3 Comments

You Know Your Child Best- Pittsburgh Parent Magazine November 2014

A recent publication in Pittsburgh Parent Magazine about a topic near and dear to ‘s heart!

Pittsburgh parent November 2014- You Know Your Child Best.


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How to feed your family without Losing your MIND!


When we began this journey with a very fussy, “colicky” baby girl, all I wanted to do was feed my family. All I wanted to do was nourish the little ones (and one big one) who were counting on me for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Those early days were exhausting and emotionally draining, trying to breastfeed an extremely sensitive child, trying breastfeeding elimination diets, trying to sustain myself on a limited diet so I could sustain my baby, oh and cook different food for the boys who weren’t on our dietary restrictions.  Not soo much fun, but worth it…because in the end we learned the POWER of food (both good and bad!), found a diet that helped our daughter begin to heal, and it is ultimately what motivated me to start this Baby FOOD steps Blog!

Now, almost 6 years later and I have been blessed to meet some amazing mothers along this journey, mothers who really only wanted to feed and love their babies too!  Some of these ladies are part of The THINKING MOMS Revolution- a group of parents who are thinking and questioning everything about children’s health because they have lived and breathed their own children’s illnesses and know that recovery is real. These parents are finding answers for not only their kids but sharing that knowledge with others who need it.

This group is having a Virtual Food Conference coming up OCTOBER 7th, 2014 that I cannot wait to listen to! A star studded cast of FOOD EXPERTS including a few of my favorites (Julie Matthews and Stephanie Senefff) will be speaking and they have just given me a FREE CONFERENCE registration to give away (just leave a comment on this blog with how food has impacted your child and on our Facebook page to be entered, will draw name October 2nd)! The greatest part is that these busy moms know that WE all are busy- so if you cannot make it on the 7th you can still register and have access to all the recordings for an ENTIRE YEAR- to listen to when everyone else in your house is in bed!

Here are the details:

GMOs, Organics and Food Allergies: How To Feed Your Family Without Losing Your Mind eConference 2014

Date: October 7th 2014  | Time: 10 am – 5 pm EST  |  Registration Fee: US $40

Register HERE


Posted in Advocacy, Allergies, Conference, Medical, Organic, Pesticides, Research | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Mitochondrial Week #1min4mito 2014 Wrap Up

As Mitochondrial Disease Awareness week 2014 wraps up, we are posting a compilation of the 7 Mitochondrial Minutes that we have shared via social media this past week.

Please feel free to continue to share these anytime and anywhere, just link back to http://www.babyfoodsteps please!  By taking #1min4mito you never know who you may help and who’s life you may improve!

For more awareness resources you can click here for Mitoaction and here for UMDF.

Posted in #1min4mito, Advocacy, Awareness, Medical, Mitoaction, Mitochondrial Disease, Mitoxic, Toxins, UMDF | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Cancer, Autism, and Faith

A number of years ago, when we were in the thick of reactions, hospitalizations and testing, trying to figure out what was wrong with our little one,  I struggled to find a church home where I could find peace, solace, understanding and renewed faith.  I struggled, because it seemed the churches we visited were set up for neurotypical children and families with no health issues or concerns.  At the height of my frustration and as I was ready to throw in the towel, I happened upon this blog, Autism and the Church, and instantly I knew I was not alone in my religious journey.

After I read Thinking Moms Revolution book, I further connected with the author of that blog, Melanie (aka Booty Kicker) and found such comfort in reading her blogs about special needs, autism and church and faith. This blog hit another nerve, after moving to a new city and starting our search for a new church home all over again, and being met with candy, cookies, artificial everything, EVERY SUNDAY, with a child who cannot eat any of it (due to allergies, intolerance and metabolic concerns), again I was not alone in my struggles… BK had been there and felt that.  Melanie’s words and blogs have really changed  how I view religion, faith and church… I have a strong desire to be part of the solution now, and not complain about the problem. While I still haven’t figured out exactly how I fit into God’s plan to help other in the church religious realm, I do know that he has brought some amazing people into my life recently (including Melanie) that have similar concerns and desires to make His love know to ALL our children, not just the ones who can sit quietly in a pew!

Well, tonight I am writing this blog because it is time to give back and pay it forward. Melanie, who has already fought and beat breast cancer and bone cancer, is facing cancer for a third time. My heart is broken that this is happening again to such a sweet, faithful and caring soul.  Many in the autism (and beyond) communities are rallying together for a fundraiser for Melanie and her family, to help with treatment and with care for her autistic son while she heals.

Please consider doing what you can, be it prayers, good wishes, words of encouragement or a donation to her fundraiser.

Text from fundraiser:

Thinking Mom Melanie Baldwin suffers spine, liver cancer after having beat breast and bone. Son suffers profound autism: please donate!

An amazing woman by the name of Melanie Hamilton Baldwin changed the face of autism and cancer culture by telling her story to thousands as “Booty Kicker” in the Thinking Moms’ Revolution’s book Autism Beyond the Spectrum. Having once beaten breast and bone (hip) cancer; she now suffers liver, spine, and bone cancer in her other hip. For anyone who knows Melanie, two words come to mind. “Faithful” and “Godly.” As she struggles to overcome her current issues, her severely affected son Luke, still requires 24/7 care and attention as he is self-injurious and quite ill, suffering the lingering effects of severe autism. Please consider donating generously to help her family care for Luke as she regains her health, and please help their family establish financial security that will help them thrive during her absence.


***Note to other Bloggers… If you would like to help by writing a blog, Give Forward is willing to donate $ to this fundraiser for each blog post written and shared about Melanie’s fundraiser. For more information, leave a comment or send a message to us.


Editor’s Note- It is with extreme saddness that I post this. Melanie passed away last evening- October,, 5, 2014. Her family still needs our prayers, love and support- financial and otherwise. RIP Melanie- thank you for sharing your faith with all of us.

Posted in Advocacy, Autism, Hope, Medical | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Vaccination: A Conversation, Pittsburgh, PA

Yesterday, I had the amazing opportunity to attend an event in what has to be one of the most beautiful spots in Pittsburgh: The Phipps Conservatory. Surrounded by the most beautiful plants, tress, and flowers: thought leaders, practitioners, and parents gathered to have a conversation about a topic that comes with much emotion and controversy in today’s world.  But instead of arguments, name-calling and disagreement (as happens all too often in cyberspace) the atmosphere was one filled with respect, thoughtful discussion, and support for a parent’s individual right  to determine the best course of care for the health of their child.

The day was filled with a thought-provoking seminar on immunity and how T1 and T2 cellular response differ, and how each are impacted by vaccination, by Dr. Chris Powell, followed by a talk about our genetic differences, methylation cycle abnormalities and susceptibilities by Dr. Noah Erikson. The day culminated with a talk by Barbara Loe Fisher of the National Vaccine Information Center about her own very personal story of her son’s severe reaction to the DPT shot, followed by a history of vaccine legislation in the United States and how that impacts parental rights.  Her keynote address was met with a standing ovation from the packed room of attendees.

The day concluded with 2 panel discussions: A practitioner’s panel, highlighting an MD, RN and ND’s views on vaccination and then a Parent’s panel with 3 moms who all had different experiences with their children: one who experienced mitochondrial disease with her child, one with down’s syndrome, autism and leukemia, and severe autistic regression after MMR vaccine with a third child.  One of the many things I loved about the conference was there was ample time for questions and discussion around all the topics that were discussed. And while no one person could answer all the questions, given the extremely educated audience, it seemed other attendees could easily jump in and answer what they knew about the questions at hand. It was a true respectful CONVERSATION and DISCUSSION.

Patricia Lemer, the organizer of the event, and the author of Outsmarting Autism, concluded the day by highlighting some takeaways from the event:

  • Patricia stressed that we all need to KNOW WHAT A VACCINE injury looks like.


Recognizing Vaccine Reaction Symptoms

(from the NVIC website)

If you or your child experiences any of the symptoms listed below in the hours, days or weeks following vaccination, it should be reported to VAERS.  Some vaccine reaction symptoms include:

  • Pronounced swelling, redness, heat or hardness at the site of the injection;
  • Body rash or hives;
  • Shock/collapse;
  • High pitched screaming or persistent crying for hours;
  • Extreme sleepiness or long periods of unresponsiveness;
  • Twitching or jerking of the body, arm, leg or head;
  • Crossing of eyes;
  • Weakness or paralysis of any part of the body;
  • Loss of ability to roll over, sit up or stand up;
  • Loss of eye contact or awareness or social withdrawal;
  • Head banging or onset of repetitive movements (flapping, rubbing, rocking, spinning);
  • High fever (over 103 F)
  • Vision or hearing loss;
  • Restlessness, hyperactivity or inability to concentrate;
  • Sleep disturbances that change wake/sleep pattern;
  • Joint pain or muscle weakness;
  • Disabling fatigue;
  • Loss of memory;
  • Onset of chronic ear or respiratory infections;
  • Violent or persistent diarrhea or chronic constipation;
  • Breathing problems (asthma);
  • Excessive bleeding (thrombocytopenia) or anemia.


  • Patricia highlighted the NVIC’s brochure: Ask 8 Before you vaccinate- stressing that a sick child or one that is on antibiotics should never be vaccinated while they are sick.
  • Patricia reminded parents that Acetaminophen can lower a person’s glutathione making it more difficult for the person to detoxify, and therefore it may not be the best choice to be given before (or after) vaccination.
  • Patricia stressed the importance of eating REAL FOOD and that for children who are damaged, the nutrition they get from food (even real food) may not be enough, so supplementation may be necessary.
  • Patricia declared a CALL TO ACTION- to become vaccination educators and to join NVIC’s advocacy portal.

My day ended with a stroll through the breathtaking gardens of Phipps and a view    a-top Mount Washington, a perfect ending to a thought-provoking & intellectually stimulating day.

Posted in Advocacy, Conference, Genetics, Medical, Methylation, Mitochondrial Disease, Mitoxic, Research, Toxins | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment