The Forum Institute
Environmental and nutritional strategies for safe pregnancies and healthy children.
The Forum began as a division of the Northwest Autism Foundation. NWAF had worked with great success to validate the previously novel concept that autism is at least partly the result of environmental factors – and therefore a condition that can in many cases be prevented and/or treated.
How It Began
In 2004, NWAF, in cooperation with Massachusetts General Hospital, raised $1.5 million to establish the Autism Treatment Network (ATN). Initially involving experts in various medical disciplines at six treating hospitals, ATN was the first network of its kind to bring together physicians of diverse specialties in order to bridge gaps in knowledge and thereby improve treatment for individuals with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs). Today ATN remains the premier university ASD research program.
The Forum’s mandate was to broaden the intellectual and scientific base of NWAF’s message by convening think tanks of leading researchers and then publishing results.
Autism: One Part of a More General Problem
Through the work of its think tanks, The Forum gained a new perspective: autism appeared as a special case of a more general public health problem – the increasing incidence of problem pregnancies and of serious, chronic disorders among infants and young children. The Forum also learned that the relevant scientific and medical research communities had accepted for years that environmental factors were chief causes of much of this public health problem. Means had even been developed and tested whereby a woman contemplating a baby could be guided through toxin avoidance, proper nutrition and other healthy behavior choices and thus dramatically increase her odds of a healthy pregnancy and of a healthy baby.
But these means remained largely unused. Medical practitioners ignored them and the general public was unaware they existed.
Publicizing the Science
The Forum then chose to become an independent foundation whose first project is to publicize effectively the science of healthy pregnancies and infants – and to offer mothers-to-be a specific, step-by-step regimen designed on the basis of that science, that they can follow on their own or with a trained medical practitioner. This is Preconception-to-infancy, or P2i for short.
What’s Next for The Forum?
Once its P2i initiative is underway, The Forum will launch other public health initiatives into the public consciousness. First up will be the One-Year Project – which will build on the “Early Identification” paper (cited above), under the leadership of co-author and Forum director Dr. Doreen Granpeesheh.