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The Microbiome: Could It Be The Epicenter Of Autism?

Gut-brainBy Teresa Conrick

Since 1938, autism has moved from a blip on the radar screen to a full-force tsunami today.  Those first eleven children identified by psychiatrist, Dr. Leo Kanner, all exhibited the now infamous triad of behaviors:

  1. Qualitative impairment in social interaction
  2. Qualitative impairments in communication
  3. Restricted repetitive and stereotyped patterns of behavior, interests and activities

Sadly, there is not enough reporting of the  MEDICAL patterns that Kanner briefly described. Dan Olmsted was the trailblazer on the connection of toxic exposure in those families, with his UPI series posted on our homepage.  Then he and Mark Blaxill went back and forth in history to seal the deal on specifically, MERCURY and its insidious relationship with autism.  Andrew Wakefield has been researching and publishing for over ten years on the gut-brain connection in autism.    My gratitude to each of them for their continual investigations.

Leo Kanner wrote these descriptions of those first-ever, diagnosed children but he did not see the obvious:

•  "Eating," the report said, "has always been a problem with him.”

•    large and ragged tonsils.

•    Following smallpox vaccination at 12 months, he had an attack of diarrhea and fever

•    Large tonsils and adenoids

•    He vomited a great deal during his first year,

•    She quit taking any kind of nourishment at 3 months. She was tube-fed five times daily up to 1       year of age.

•    He vomited all food from birth through the third month.

•    His tonsils were removed when he was 3 years old.

•    He vomited all food from birth through the third month.

•    He suffered from repeated colds and otitis media, which necessitated bilateral myringotomy

•    Because of a febrile illness at 13 months, her increasing difficulties were interpreted as possible

      postencephalitic behavior disorder.    

•    He had been kept in bed often because of colds, bronchitis, chickenpox, streptococcus infection, impetigo

Kanner missed the pattern of GI issues and INFECTION.  These two medical problems have continued to be prevalent in many if not most of the children being diagnosed today. Instead, he did the Freudian spin:

Food is the earliest intrusion that is brought to the child from the outside. David Levy observed that affect-hungry children, when placed in foster homes where they are well treated, at first demand excessive quantities of food. Hilde Bruch, in her studies of obese children, found that overeating often resulted when affectionate offerings from the parents were lacking or considered unsatisfactory.

Our patients, reversely, anxious to keep the outside world away, indicated this by the refusal of food. Donald, Paul ("vomited a great deal during the first year"), Barbara ("had to be tube-fed until 1 year of age"), Herbert, Alfred, and John presented severe feeding difficulty from the beginning of life.

The children also seemed to have illnesses that may point to Streptococcus, as evidenced by infection of their tonsils, adenoids and ears. That seems to be the pattern still today, if not more.

I continue to read more and more research that fits this pattern of infection leading to effects on the brain.  Not enough commensal bacteria and too many pathogens can be the epicenter of inflammation, pain, and metabolic reactions that ultimately reach the brain:

Researchers have long postulated that gut bacteria influence brain function… In 2011 Mazmanian and colleagues reported that changes in gut microbial composition might have far-ranging effects that extend to the brain.8…. “Genes and an environmental trigger are necessary but not sufficient for disease development. We knew there had to be a third key element,” says Alessio Fasano, chief of pediatric gastroenterology and nutrition at Mass General Hospital for Children in Boston. Fasano and colleagues hypothesize the answers lie with the health of the gut microbial ecosystem as a whole…

….. Research suggests that short-term exposure to xenobiotics alters microbial physiology, community structure, and gene expression.

What is a xenobiotic? ----“a chemical compound (as a drug, pesticide, or carcinogen) that is foreign to a living organism.. 

There is growing evidence that both environmental assaults AND vaccines can change the microbiome:

….. Colonization is a dynamic process of interactions among microbes and between microbes and the host and result in balanced bacterial ecosystems that benefit health. Perturbations of these interactive microbial structures (e.g., by environmental change or vaccinations) alter the bacterial network structures and may thereby influence the presence and containment of other microbiota members, and these alterations have effects on health and susceptibility to disease (13,14).” 

Autism - could it be from the downward effect of MAN changing the structure of the microbiome?  From recent investigations:

The current study confirmed these suspicions, and found that children with autism had significantly fewer types of gut bacteria, probably making them more vulnerable to pathogenic bacteria…. To date, studies of the gut microbiome in autistic subjects have focused primarily on pathogenic bacteria, some of which have been implicated in alterations to brain function. One example involves gram-negative bacteria containing lipopolysaccharides in their cell walls, which can induce inflammation of the brain and lead to the accumulation of high levels of mercury in the cerebrum.  

“Proximity to point sources of environmental mercury release as a predictor of autism prevalence”…. We found that for every 1000 pounds of industrial release, there was a corresponding 2.6% increase in autism rates (p<.05) and a 3.7% increase associated with power plant emissions(P<.05)… For every 10 miles from industrial or power plant sources, there was an associated decreased autism Incident Risk of 2.0% and 1.4%, respectively…  

….half of the children with autism and GI dysfunction whose GI tracts were assayed by biopsy harbor the relatively obscure bacterium, Sutterella. None of the children with GI dysfunction but not autism were positive for this bug. The authors conclude that, “Sutterella is a major component of the microbiota in over half of the children with autism and GI dysfunction”…… Another important result from this study is the presence of antibodies directed against Sutterella specifically in the circulation of the autism cases. This suggests, but does not prove, that the bug could be causing an infection. Since a defective epithelial barrier has previously been found in some autism GI samples, it is possible that the immune reaction occurred without an actual, proliferating infection. Another interesting question is whether there is a deficit in the composition in the normal, commensal bacterial composition of the gut in autism, and Sutterella simply opportunistically invaded that empty niche. 

What can create this “niche” that enables opportunistic pathogens to invade?

…….new organisms are expected to move into the empty niches created by vaccine elimination of organisms. Thus the structure of the microbiome is altered by vaccines.

Meet beautiful and smart, Ann.  I have known Ann’s parents, Bob and Sue, for many years as both Me using RPM to communicate our girls attend the same school and have been nonverbal since regression hit them both as toddlers.  They began to take Ann to Green Bay, WI to work with Erika Anderson, of A.C.E. Teaching & Consulting,  trained in the use of Soma® Rapid Prompting Method (RPM).   I have taken Meg a few times but due to her intense pain and behaviors, I have had to cancel often.  A.C.E. is wonderful and my hope is that as we keep getting Meg better, she too will be able to communicate more but for now, Ann will be their collective voice. Ann, nonverbal and probably often mistakenly thought to be cognitively impaired, started her own blog as RPM changed her life.  A recent blog from Ann brought me to tears as it is so true.

It’s Not Fun Being Sick All The Time! 

It seems like because of my autism I am sick more often than others!  This is very frustrating!  It’s maddening!  I am beginning to believe there is a connection between stomach issues and autism!  I do not know exactly what that connection is, but I do believe there definitely is one!  Maybe if one is cured, both will be cured!

How brilliant yet heartbreaking is that?

Teresa Conrick is Contributing Editor to Age of Autism..

Comments

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Benedetta

I listened to a talk that Allesso Fassona gave.

It was very good!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VvfTV57iPUY

He explained some things like zonulin a bit more. He said it was an entire chromosome 16 - that produced all kinds of different door men -- opening doors in the gut for different things we come across. .

It takes three things to make these doors open -- zonulin + some protein (mostly gluten) + something else that I can't get an handle on ??? But I will!

Zonulin chromosome 16 has many genes on it that are linked to all autoimmune diseases -- he named them and it was almost endless -- diabetes, hypothyroid, MS -- on and on. .

He said that the gut when laid out would take up two foot ball fields -- that each place along the gut has it's own door openers -- the part of the gut that absorbs iron is only an inch or two long --

He went on to say that microbes may play a part in reacting with the doormen zonulin - in what to open for and what not to open for.

Toward the end of his talk he talks about the human microbiome as another entire set of genes!

He said that he was surprised that a lowly worm had more genes than we did, unless we added all of our microbes in the mix. . But then, I don't know; maybe our genes have more to say than the worm's??? Although it is exciting to think that microbes could be like a second set of genes that makes us humans- and we might can change them. .

Fassona did say that no one can digest gluten, but many can and do tolerate it - and not develop an autoimmune disease - because for the same reason that gluten is elastic -- and holds the air and it swells up so lovely when baking -- is the same reason our enzymes cannot break them down -- to elastic and stretches .

He continues to say it takes three things to develop an autoimmune - celiacs and that is zonulin + gluten + ? What is the third?

He said that a person can develop celiacs at any age and the older you get - the more likely are the chances of developing celiacs increases.

That there are people out there that for 70 years tolerated gluten and then lost their ability to tolerate it and developed an auto immune disease.

Benedetta

Thank you Betty;

I find it interesting that also belonging to the order Burkholderiales is not only Sutterella, and the Oxlate type backteria, but also the Bordetella bacteria. Bordetella now - isn't that pertussin -- whooping cough -- the same bacteria we are being vaccinated with a toxoid hooked on with aluminum adjuvant -- not to mention that they put this pertussin toxoidas an adjuvant in the Hep B shot too.

What could that mean, if anything?

Betty Bona

Benedetta,
One of my sons formed a crystal in scar tissue in his eye after a minor injury. I can't say it's an oxalate crystal, but I'm pretty sure it is. I remember Dr. McCandless telling stories of kids on the spectrum wanting to pull their eyes out from pain. I know that crystal was painful to my son for quite some time. I had gall stones, and several people in my husband's family have had kidney stones. About 80% of the time these are calcium oxalate crystals. They have been told to avoid oxalates in their diets, but a better fix might be to have the proper balance of gut bugs. Calcium is so important to neurotransmission, that I sometimes wonder whether the removal of calcium through the crystals could have an impact on brain function.

With a bad gut bug, it's easier to see the problems it causes, but it's harder to quantify the damage from lack of good gut bugs. An example would be lack of butyrate producing bacteria. The presence of Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis, and IBD is inversely correlated to the presence of butyrate producing bacteria. In a mouse study of ASD gut barrier pathology and behavior, butyrate, propionate and acetate producing bacteria were again implicaged. So the gut bacteria seems to be affecting both gut inflammation and probably brain inflammation (I think they directly improve the intestinal barrier and also affect T and B cell production). Since I put everything through my nitric oxide google search, I find that butyrate inhibits lipopolysaccharide-induced nitric oxide production. Here's that study - http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11052179
I think nitric oxide is key in regulating the immune system's inflammatory process.

Here's something Rob Knight (a microbiome researcher at the University of Colorado Boulder) says: "But, you know, there’s been a lot of efforts to search for personalised responses to drugs in the human genome but maybe that’s the wrong place to look because we're all 99.9 per cent identical in terms of our human DNA. But, then in terms of our microbes and the genes that they carry two people can be 80 or 90 per cent different as opposed to being 99.9 per cent the same. So, in many ways if you’re interested in individual variability in drug response, in response to diet, response to exercise or all of these other things where there’s huge individual variation maybe it just makes sense where a lot of the variation actually is, which is going to be in your microbial genome rather than in your host genome." To me that says we should be looking at the microbiome rather than individual genetics to determine why some children react so badly to vaccines while others do not.

M Maxwell

Teresa, because of your essay on Pink Disease a couple of months ago I learned that some of the symptoms of that mercury-caused ailment are similar to autism symptoms, e.g., sensitivity to light, weak muscles, tearing at one’s skin, and convulsive seizures. (Other of the Pink symptoms are non-autistic, as far as I am aware, e.g., numbness of extremities, ulceration of gums, anemia.) The website pinkdisease.org says 10-25% of the babies died, due to secondary infection. I guess Pink made the child vulnerable to infection. Do you now suggest that the streptococcus came along because there was a niche caused by removal of “good bacteria”? I am wondering why 0% of the normals have sutterella. From whence did sutterella hail in the autistic cases? Teresa, if their great-grandparents did not pass it down to them, is it really part of the biome? Maybe the sutterella is itself the environmental assault.
To beautiful and smart Ann I say that I, an outsider to autism, am OUTRAGED that she has to endure gut problems. This must stop. This MUST stop.

Mary W Maxwell, PhD, LLB

Teresa, because of your essay on Pink Disease a couple of months ago I learned that some of the symptoms of that mercury-caused ailment are similar to autism symptoms, e.g., sensitivity to light, weak muscles, tearing at one’s skin, and convulsive seizures. (Other of the Pink symptoms are non-autistic, as far as I am aware, e.g., numbness of extremities, ulceration of gums, anemia.) The website pinkdisease.org says 10-25% of the babies died, due to secondary infection. I guess Pink made the child vulnerable to infection. Do you now suggest that the streptococcus came along because there was a niche caused by removal of “good bacteria”? I am wondering why 0% of the normals have sutterella. From whence did sutterella hail in the autistic cases? Teresa, if their great-grandparents did not pass it down to them, is it really part of the biome? Maybe the sutterella is itself the environmental assault.
To beautiful and smart Ann I say that I, an outsider to autism, am OUTRAGED that she has to endure gut problems. This must stop. This MUST stop.

Benedetta

I am very curious if we are the only ones that have trouble with kidney stones?


Sutterella belongs to the order Burkholderiales in that same order there are also other kinds of bacteria, one of which is called oxalobacter. These bacteria uses oxalates for their carbon needs. Oxalic acid is also used in the Krebs cycle --- energy cycle - as in mitochondria.

At the same time oxalates can be a very bad thing too as in oxalates can form calcium oxalate which is what kidney stones are made of.

Oxlate is plentiful in our - vegetables esp rhubarb which is very high in oxalates especially the leaves, and that is why rhubarb leaves are considered poisonous.

They have been studying Oxalobacter formigenes bacteria, in hopes that using it in a probiotic - the bacteria will help us humans by digesting the oxalates and making oxalate pass out though the feces and not make calcium oxalates to clog up kidneys and the tubes carrying urine to the bladder. Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium show just as much promise in doing the same job as O formigenes.

A link to the study about this is above.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20602988

As always I wonder what is interfering with the mitochondria.


Bacteria can morph from one species to another -- (well I have been just blown away by this discovery) Sutterella makes me wonder what if any thing it does with oxalates, and does it morph?

My family - not so much the one with autism -- but my husband with the same type of mitochondria myopathy as Poling (try to respect her privacy a bit) had a horrible time with kidney stones - so did I -- so did my Mother -- who has had stomach problems for 40 some years after a flu shot -

So I do wonder how many family members of kids with autism have had problems with kidney stones -I woneer if it would be above average?

Benedetta

Sutterella belongs to the order Burkholderiales in that same order there are also other kinds of bacteria, one of which is called oxalobacter. These bacteria uses oxalates for their carbon needs. Oxalic acid is also used in the Krebs cycle --- energy cycle - as in mitochondria.

At the same time oxalates can be a very bad thing too as in oxalates can form calcium oxalate which is what kidney stones are made of.

Oxlate is plentiful in our - vegetables esp rhubarb which is very high in oxalates especially the leaves, and that is why rhubarb leaves are considered poisonous.

They have been studying Oxalobacter formigenes bacteria, in hopes that using it in a probiotic - the bacteria will help us humans by digesting the oxalates and making oxalate pass out though the feces and not make calcium oxalates to clog up kidneys and the tubes carrying urine to the bladder. Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium show just as much promise in doing the same job as O formigenes.

A link to the study about this is above.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20602988

As always I wonder what is interfering with the mitochondria.


Bacteria can morph from one species to another -- (well I have been just blown away by this discovery) Sutterella makes me wonder what if any thing it does with oxalates, and does it morph?

My family - not so much the one with autism -- but my husband with the same type of mitochondria myopathy as Poling (try to respect her privacy a bit) had a horrible time with kidney stones - so did I -- so did my Mother -- who has had stomach problems for 40 some years after a flu shot -

So I do wonder how many family members of kids with autism have had problems with kidney stones --I wonder if there is more than just average to the population of families with autism?

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