Note: Read Teresa Conrick's full series on the Microbiome in our AofA Exclusives category.
By Teresa Conrick
Research on the microbiome is booming. I recently read that smartphones could be used as a sensor for personal mirobiome analysis demonstrating that the microbiome is becoming a mainstream concept. “Our cell phones actually reflect the personal microbial world of their owners, with potential implications for their use as bacterial and environmental sensors, according to new research….University of Oregon researchers sequenced microbes from the dominant-hand index fingers and thumbs of 17 subjects…The study found smartphones closely resembled the microbiome sampled from their owner's finger, with 82 percent of the most common bacteria on participants' fingers also found on their phones.”
I continue to read and write about the relationship between the microbiome and autism for some very important reasons. First, I have a very ill daughter, called autistic yet affected by infections and now, an autoimmune diagnosis. In addition, there are thousands like her around the world. The significance of the microbiome and this first symposium is tremendous. Whether you have a child who has a diagnosis of AUTISM, PANDAS, PANS, IMMUNE DYSFUNCTION, or a combination of these, the studies of the microbiome are showing how the puzzle pieces may fit. I want to thank John Rodakis and N of One for organizing this first symposium on autism and the microbiome.
For me, leaving town is not an easy feat. Like many of you who live with a child who is chronically ill, a departure from their care can be difficult. I told Meg, who has had GI issues since regression at age two, nonverbal since that regression, seizures starting at age sixteen and then positive for antinuclear antibodies at eighteen, that I was going to go on this trip to learn how to get her feeling better. She smiled and smelled my hand, giving me a tiny kiss as she ran off to her favorite swing. That day was a good one for her but there are too many not good. She deserves a pain-free life where GI pain, vocal tics, OCD and self-injurious behavior disappear. Leaving gluten, casein and soy-free meals plus 3 days of medications and supplements, I left Chicago for Little Rock. I decided to drive as I wanted to stop in Missouri after the conference and visit the cemetery where my parents are buried, along with my maternal grandmother. My parents had bought land in the Ozarks years and years ago as a serene goal for retirement. My father died in 1993, the year Megan was born and my mother died in 1996, the year Megan was diagnosed with autism. Not an easy time for me. I had not been to the cemetery since then, as Megan’s many medical and behavioral issues made life challenging. There were some connections in my family history that the microbiome research may help answer, including Meg’s autism, which seemed to be infections and behaviors that trapped her. More about that connection on the return trip.
You can read Teresa Conrick's series on the Microbiome at our Age of Autism Exclusives.
By Teresa Conrick
In addition to more OCD on popular television shows, I discovered that there are many famous people who report having OCD:
Lena Dunham from Girls has her own personal history with OCD along with Howard Stern as well as all of these folks: Megan Fox, Justin Timberlake, Jessica Alba, Julianne Moore, and Charlize Theron. Cameron Diaz, Donald Trump, Leonardo DiCaprio, Howie Mandel, David Beckham, and Billy Bob Thornton have also shared that they too, have OCD . I bring them up as I think it shows how people can deal with OCD and still have careers and obviously be in the spotlight. These celebrities may be very interested in this information about the microbiome and its key to OCD as current treatments are not very effective. This from Harvard research:
- “Only about 10% of patients recover completely, but 50% improve with treatment.”
- “Generally 40% to 60% of patients with OCD will experience at least a partial reduction in symptoms after treatment with an SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors). However, many continue to have residual symptoms.”
- “The most common side effects of SSRIs are gastrointestinal distress, restlessness, insomnia, and sexual dysfunction (such as reduced libido, erectile dysfunction, and inability to reach orgasm).”
Some of their reported OCD issues
DiCaprio: Titanic and Shutter Island star Leonardo DiCaprio was obsessed with sidewalks as a child, often going back over his walking routes to repeatedly step on cracks or gum stains. Doorways also triggered his OCD.
Diaz: Cameron Diaz, star of such films as The Mask and There's Something About Mary, admitted in a 1997 article that she suffered from a phobia of germs that caused her to clean the doorknobs in her house so many times that she faded their paint.
Dunham: Girl-of-the-moment Lena Dunham talks candidly about her battle with obsessive-compulsive disorder and anxiety in the Feb. 28 issue of Rolling Stone. In the cover story, the 26-year-old creator and star of HBO's "Girls" says she took antidepressants in high school, and was obsessed with the number eight.
Mandel: Howie Mandel won't shake hands with people because of a fear of dirt and germs. He even keeps his head shaved in order to "feel more clean." Mandel details his struggles with both OCD and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder in his book Here's the Deal: Don't Touch Me, published in 2009.
Beckham: International soccer star David Beckham's OCD expresses itself by an obsession with pairing items and organizing them by color or type. According to his wife Victoria, Beckham has purchased three refrigerators so that he can have one for drinks, one for salads, and one for other foods. The items must be in even numbers, as well. "If there's three cans of Diet Coke, he'd throw one away instead of having three--because it has to be an even number."
Gene Research - What Is It Good For?
If you have been following the autism-gene search, the OCD genes are about the same --“candidate” genes and “vulnerability” genes but basically -- much is still “unknown.” The ENVIRONMENT seems to be more the factor:
My daughter, Megan, is twenty-one and has a diagnosis of both autism and autoimmunity. One of the main behavioral symptoms that Megan began to exhibit nineteen years ago was obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). It is not an easy life by any means as OCD can dominate too many of her days. Meg regressed after each vaccine as a toddler but had a profound change in health and behaviors after her MMR vaccine. She developed a full body rash, fever, stopped eating, had numerous, daily episodes of green diarrhea, lost eye contact, became isolative,--- and then obsessed with holding a magnetic letter in each hand 24/7. More medical issues developed for example, chronic constipation, Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), and seizures over these past years. Megan has been nonverbal since that regression. Many with an autism diagnosis have OCD and similar health issues. The immune system continues to be unraveled more as the big player in an autism diagnosis yet some still habitually describe autism as a genetic misfit. OCD is a factor in much of this. There seem to be patterns that need to be examined:
Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) occurs worldwide, with common features across diverse ethnic groups and cultures. It affects approximately 2% of the population and is associated with substantial social, personal, and work impairment.1,2……Moreover, a number of other psychiatric and neurologic disorders have similar phenomenological features, can be comorbid with OCD, or are sometimes even conceptualized as uncommon presentations of OCD. These include the obsessive preoccupations and repetitive behaviors found in body dysmorphic disorder, hypochondriasis, Tourette syndrome, Parkinson's disease, catatonia, autism, and in some individuals with eating disorders (eg, anorexia nervosa).4-1……three to five symptom dimensions,19 with the most commonly identified solution including four factors: (i) contamination obsessions and cleaning compulsions; (ii) aggressive, sexual, religious, and somatic obsessions with checking-related compulsions; (iii) obsessions regarding symmetry, exactness, and the need for things to be "just right" paired with compulsions relating to ordering, arranging, and counting, and (iv) hoarding obsessions and compulsions.
Kanner Unfortunately Missed the Immune Dysfunction
Dr. Leo Kanner met those first eleven children, born in the 1930’s , that he would then diagnose in his 1943 paper, AUTISTIC DISTURBANCES OF AFFECTIVE CONTACT . Being a psychiatrist may have clouded his ability to recognize any of the medical issues that those children had vs the psychiatric issues that he loved to study. We here at Age of Autism continue to point out those health issues as we believe they lead both to causation and cures. Kanner did not see the connections that are so clear today but instead used Freudian logic to blame the parents. It is important to get the clues that Kanner missed in his own writings about those first eleven, such as these, describing obsessions and compulsions:
By Teresa Conrick
I doubt very much that Edward Jenner, in the late 1790’s, gave much thought to the microbiome of those first patients he inoculated with his “cowpox” vaccine. Fast forward to 2014 and the same may be true of the billion dollar companies making vaccines today. How is that possible? What is the microbiome? -- “A microbiome is "the ecological community of commensal, symbiotic, and pathogenic microorganisms that literally share our body space." This term was originally coined by Joshua Lederberg, who argued the importance of microorganisms inhabiting the human body in health and disease. Many scientific articles distinguish "microbiome" and "microbiota" to describe either the collective genomes of the microorganisms that reside in an environmental niche or the microorganisms themselves, respectively. However by the original definitions these terms are largely synonymous.”
It is becoming one of the most important pieces to health in our modern society though much is still unknown, yet more and more research is showing the microbiome to be a litmus test in health, for example:
Date: November 13, 2013
Source: Mayo Clinic
Summary: Research has shown that the intestinal microbiome plays a large role in the development of type 1 diabetes……….These researchers demonstrated that mice fed a gluten-free diet had a dramatically reduced incidence of Type 1 diabetes. These mice were non-obese diabetic mice, or mice that grow to develop Type 1 diabetes. The gluten-free diet worked to protect the mice against Type 1 diabetes. When the researchers added gluten back into the diets of mice it reversed the protective effect the gluten free diet had provided. There also was a measurable impact of the gluten on the bacterial flora of the mice that might be one way in which gluten could affect the risk for diabetes.
Very interesting and shows how important the gut and bacterial flora are in maintaining health. Gluten is an important factor in autism and many children just can’t eat it as painful symptoms and negative behaviors begin.
We are seeing epidemic numbers of immune and autoimmune diseases. Autism is one of them and I will add in that PANDAS, Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorders Associated with Streptococcal Infections and PANS, Pediatric Acute-onset Neuropsychiatric Syndrome, are also climbing these past years. They share characteristics and many families have both autism and PANDAS/PANS, diagnosed children. Some of those children have both diagnoses, like my daughter, Megan. Why?
In the definition above, "microbiome" and "microbiota" are “largely synonymous”, so let me introduce a recent study that reflects how the microbiome and microbiota can be involved in vaccination.
This study is on the CDC website:
Volume 20, Number 2—February 2014
Seven-valent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV-7) is effective against vaccine serotype disease and carriage. Nevertheless, shifts in colonization and disease toward nonvaccine serotypes and other potential pathogens have been described. To understand the extent of these shifts, we analyzed nasopharyngeal microbial profiles of 97 PCV-7–vaccinated infants and 103 control infants participating in a randomized controlled trial in the Netherlands. PCV-7 immunization resulted in a temporary shift in microbial community composition and increased bacterial diversity. Immunization also resulted in decreased presence of the pneumococcal vaccine serotype and an increase in the relative abundance and presence of nonpneumococcal streptococci and anaerobic bacteria. Furthermore, the abundance of Haemophilus and Staphylococcus bacteria in vaccinees was increased over that in controls. This study illustrates the much broader effect of vaccination with PCV-7 on the microbial community than currently assumed, and highlights the need for careful monitoring when implementing vaccines directed against common colonizers.
Let’s look at that more closely. First off, it is a study of 97 vaccinated (PCV-7) and 103 unvaccinated (No PCV-7) children. The study does not mention it but the name of the vaccine is Prevnar-7/Prevenar . What the authors do mention, in quite a bit of detail, is that those children vaccinated had a shift in their microbiota. Here’s what the authors shared in the meat of this study:
By 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:
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.
By Teresa Conrick
I continue to explore many types of research to see what might be helpful for so many of our children affected by the insidious symptoms of neuroimmune disease, that many call AUTISM. Much research is pointing to the gut-brain axis, the microbiome and those effects on development. This is not a new concept but one that needs much more attention.
I recently saw this medical article in the news:
Date: April 16, 2014
Source: University of California - Irvine
A class of drugs developed to treat immune-related conditions and cancer -- including one currently in clinical trials for glioblastoma and other tumors -- eliminates neural inflammation associated with dementia-linked diseases and brain injuries, according to researchers. In their study, the researchers discovered that the drugs, which can be delivered orally, eradicated microglia, the primary immune cells of the brain. These cells exacerbate many neural diseases, including Alzheimer's and Parkinson's, as well as brain injury.
This summary from the abstract of the actual study - Colony-Stimulating Factor 1 Receptor Signaling Is Necessary for Microglia Viability, Unmasking a Microglia Progenitor Cell in the Adult Brain
The colony-stimulating factor 1 receptor (CSF1R) is a key regulator of myeloid lineage cells. Genetic loss of the CSF1R blocks the normal population of resident microglia in the brain that originates from the yolk sac during early development. However, the role of CSF1R signaling in microglial homeostasis in the adult brain is largely unknown. To this end, we tested the effects of selective CSF1R inhibitors on microglia in adult mice. Surprisingly, extensive treatment results in elimination of ∼99% of all microglia brain-wide, showing that microglia in the adult brain are physiologically dependent upon CSF1R signaling. Mice depleted of microglia show no behavioral or cognitive abnormalities, revealing that microglia are not necessary for these tasks. Finally, we discovered that the microglia-depleted brain completely repopulates with new microglia within 1 week of inhibitor cessation. Microglial repopulation throughout the CNS occurs through proliferation of nestin-positive cells that then differentiate into microglia.
Since microglia are heavily involved in autism, I am curious if this research would apply to autism and have benefits to the thousands of individuals, mostly kids, affected?
"Because microglia are implicated in most brain disorders, we feel we've found a novel and broadly applicable therapeutic approach," Green said. "This study presents a new way to not just modulate inflammation in the brain but eliminate it completely, making this a breakthrough option for a range of neuroinflammatory diseases."
I have to point out that because the gut and the immune system are also implicated in autism, will eliminating microglia solve the biggest issue of autism?
Would love to hear opinions on this so please leave a comment.
Teresa Conrick is Contributing Editor to Age of Autism.
By Teresa Conrick
It’s a hot topic, the MICROBIOME, defined as: "the ecological community of commensal, symbiotic, and pathogenic microorganisms that literally share our body space." I keep reading more and more research connecting the microbiome and autism.
It goes something like this, according to the research below- Mercury exposure, both environmental and via flu vaccination in a pregnant woman, can cause negative ramifications in her baby’s microbiome. The same is true for postnatal infants exposed to Thimerosal. The landscape of that microbiome loses helpful bacteria and instead we see more pathogens. The downstream effects - chronic infections, altered development of the nervous system, molecular mimicry, neuropsychiatric symptoms (tics, obsessive compulsive behaviors, perseveration and repetitive behaviors), and neurologic inflammation. Mitochondrial dysfunction, a more prevalent condition in many diagnosed with autism, seems to be part of this picture as well. Vaccines and their effect on the microbiome are also examined. Each of these studies is a puzzle piece, connecting these facts. The picture is becoming clearer:
An Immune Dysfunction of the Body Affecting the Brain
• Although the study suggested that gut bacteria could affect neurologic inflammation, how that might happen remains unclear. For the most part, Mazmanian says, the microorganisms that colonize the human gut don’t leave the intestine, but the immune cells that contact them do. He explains that, although 70% of the immune cells in the body at any one time can be found in the intestine, they circulate throughout the body, and the microbiota of the gut environment help determine how immune cells will behave elsewhere ……..Other researchers have suggested a link between the gut–brain axis and neuropsychiatric disorders such as autism, depression, and eating disorders. The gut contains microorganisms that share a structural similarity with the neuropeptides involved in regulating behavior, mood, and emotion—a phenomenon known as molecular mimicry. The body can’t tell the difference between the structure of these mimics and its own cells, so antibodies could end up attacking both, potentially altering the physiology of the gut–brain axis.12
• The human gut harbors a complex community of microbes that profoundly influence many aspects of growth and development, including development of the nervous system. Advances in high-throughput DNA sequencing methods have led to rapidly expanding knowledge about this gut microbiome.
By Teresa Conrick
The microbiome keeps coming up daily in the world of science and health. How is it involved in regressive autism? What is regressive autism?
Children with an ASD who lose skills (e.g., social interaction and communication) have become known as a subgroup called regressive autism or late onset. Regressive autism usually refers to a child where parents report an early history of normal development for 12-24 months which is followed by a loss of previously acquired skills. Individuals with ASD often suffer from gastrointestinal (GI) disorders (e.g., diarrhea, constipation, bloating and gastro-esophageal reflux) [2,3]. Fecal Microbiota and Metabolome of Children with Autism and Pervasive Developmental Disorder Not Otherwise Specified
”By 1985 the incidence of regressive autism had equalled that from birth. By 1997 both types had increased although the regressive form was now >75% of the total occurrence. This suggests that an acquired condition was overtaking birth defects or purely genetic conditions……In the vast majority of cases, the emergence of autistic indications appears to happen in children who had developed normally[10,13,14], and before three years[15,16.]” What is regressive autism and why does it occur? Is it the consequence of multi-systemic dysfunction affecting the elimination of heavy metals and the ability to regulate neural temperature?
“About one in three children with autism abruptly lose language, social or other developmental skills in their second year of life…..The results come from the synthesis of 85 studies published between 1980 and 2010 that examined regression, and include nearly 30,000 participants diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder.” SFARI: Regression may mark one-third of autism cases
By Mary Conrick
The anticipation of seeing my family after two months was finally hitting me. My phone had broken over the weekend and I was in an unfamiliar train station. All I wanted was for spring break to start and to have wireless connection again. On my long train ride home, I was reminded of this unfortunate event, the incapability to communicate with the outside world and how much I missed my family. Emails were not available either because the train didn’t have Wi-Fi. I felt kind of lost and alone and longed to be home once again, not an outsider without a cell phone, Wi-Fi and a family. To distract myself, I planned my homecoming. I thought about receiving a new phone from AT&T and grabbing an Italian beef with my dad, hugging my mom, updating her about my traveling experiences, and taking snapchats and selfies with my sister Megan. I always miss Megan the most because even with a working phone and Wi-Fi capabilities, I still am not able to communicate with her unless I return to sweet home Chicago.
When my train arrived, after circling the city then going backwards into the station (half an hour process I might add), I was beyond ready to go home. I departed from the train, used a payphone for the first time in my life, and got through to my dad after the 3rd try with dropping numerous quarters on the ground. I found my dad in the middle of Union Station and held my arms wide open. His demeanor changed from distressed to fully content. One family member down, three more to go I noted in my head. I still was longing to see my mom, Megan, and my dog. After attaining a new phone, grabbing a bite to eat, and running a few errands, I finally made it home. Everything was going according to plan. My mother was still at work but Megan was home. Her personal support worker was there at the time and I asked her if Megan was doing well. She said she has started to feel slightly better but it has been a rough morning. From the 1st floor, I can hear Megan’s vocal tics, which means she is not feeling well and should be left alone. I ignored her comment and the vocal noises and sprinted upstairs with hope that whatever mood Megan was in, she would feel elated to see me. I had this unrealistic hope that somehow I can change her sickness, her mood, and her autism just this once. Somehow through, I thought by Megan and I reuniting, that everything would be different for a brief moment. That was all I thought about on the train coming home to her.
I slammed Megan’s bedroom door wide open to find Megan on the end of her bed sitting upward. Her eyes were half- open and she did not have an excited expression on her face. She didn’t even flinch when I came in. “Hi Megan. I’m Home!!!!!” I gave her a bear hug, then paused to look her in the eyes. She barely glanced at me. We made eye contact but it wasn’t welcoming one bit. She looked irritated, infuriated, and unpleased. The green in her eyes was not calming, but alarming. They turned a dark shade of green like the deep depths of the ocean, a place no one wants to envision. Her brow was furrowed and she pushed me away from her. I was naïve and I tried to tickle her, started dancing goofy and laughed in a manly way that usually makes her chuckle at least, but again, the same response.
By Teresa Conrick
From 1984 until 2003, I worked in two, private, for-profit, psychiatric hospitals. During those years, I witnessed situations that were indelibly sad and some that made me excruciatingly angry. I stayed on year after year, as I always felt that I was making a difference, that my relationship with the teens that I helped in a school setting was both positive and influential in their journey towards discharge. I must say that too many of the doctors and staff treated the families and the patients poorly. There was the one psychiatrist who called some of his child patients, “FLK,” ( Funny Looking Kids), and then the staffings, where parents were bombarded with off-label medications to be trialed on their child, and of course the never-ending talk behind the families, of blame, dysfunction and other Freudian musings. I could take it no longer, especially as AUTISM began to appear on more charts beginning about 2001. My own daughter, who regressed into an autism diagnosis by age three, was vividly on my mind. The many medical symptoms, labs, GI issues, allergies and immune symptom abnormalities that she was experiencing were never discussed in any of the charts of those psychiatric, hospitalized patients. I had to get out of that environment as it was so wrong on so many levels.
It is worth repeating, and I will continue to do so to sound the alarm that in 1943, over seventy years ago, Dr. Leo Kanner, the psychiatrist that first started seeing these new and unique SYMPTOMS in children, had this to say --
“SINCE 1938, there have come to our attention a number of children whose condition differs so markedly and uniquely from anything reported so far, that each case merits - and, I hope, will eventually receive - a detailed consideration of its fascinating peculiarities”
What happened after that is unfortunate and heartbreaking. The “fascinating peculiarities” that Kanner described, the SYMPTOMS that the children exhibited, became the focus, and because they were “peculiar”, psychiatry dissected and savored them for years -- including present day. What also was ignored? :
• The timing of 1938 -- Why then?
• The MANY gastrointestinal issues and immune red flags of those first eleven children
The Use of Psychiatric Hospitalization for Symptoms In Autism?
“Engaging in self-injurious behavior (OR = 2.14), aggressive behavior (OR = 4.83), and being diagnosed with depression (OR = 2.48) or obsessive compulsive disorder (OR = 2.35) increased the odds of hospitalization.”
• “As seen in Fig. 3, aggression and self-injurious behavior were the most common chief complaints.”
• “Medication is commonly used to control aggression in children and adolescents in inpatient units….The use of atypical antipsychotics has expanded to treat a broad range of psychiatric diagnoses for children and adolescents despite the limited empirical evidence supporting their efficacy.”
• “Restraint methods have been associated with a significant number of client deaths in the United States. Some behavioural interventions have incorporated restraint as a consequence for aggression.”
These OXYMORON quotes are from actual research papers:
• “As with normal individuals, proper medical intervention will probably lead to the improvement of behavioral symptoms caused by acute or chronic medical conditions in individuals with ASD”
• “The unique needs of the ASD/ID population require specialized psychiatric programs that involve assessment of the “root causes” of the patient’s symptoms.”
• “No single biological or environmental cause of aggressive behaviour in people with autism or intellectual disability has been identified”http://www.wpanet.org/uploads/Education/Educational_Resources/autism-part4.pdf
Are There Biological or Environmental Causes of Aggressive Behavior Associated With an Autism Diagnosis?
There is MUCH research showing that the roots of aggression in autism are associated with PAIN and also immune dysfunction. Let’s look more closely at Gastrointestinal Issues - Immune Dysfunction - Chronic Infections:
The year I was born, 1995, was a happy but hard time for my family. It was happy because they had a new child in their life, but difficult because their older child began to show symptoms of Autism. My name is Mary and I have a sister, Megan, with severe autism. I have not really been open about discussing my sister and autism, but now I am beginning to open the doors that were shut for a very long time. I was ashamed, not of my sister, but of her disability. I was ashamed that she gave my parents extra worries and responsibilities, how the kids would laugh at her, and how I am not able to hear her voice and able to talk to her. It’s frustrating all the things that come with autism, so I just would kind of hide it. I hated small talk. The first question that would come up was “do you have any siblings”. I used to change the topic or answer it vaguely. Then, I would ask the person about their life. I would keep asking them questions pertaining to them, not me, until the topic was changed to something totally irrelevant like SpongeBob. I didn’t want anyone to know because I thought they wouldn’t understand. I didn’t want to explain her condition because it was difficult for me emotionally and mentally to talk about it. I would get flustered or cry. The worst part is if I decided to tell them, they would say “I’m sorry”. That doesn’t really help because they didn’t cause her autism and I felt like they were taking pity on my family. Later on, I realized that people don’t really know what to say because what can one say when someone tells you that. It is awful hearing about someone’s struggles and you can’t say “I hope she recovers from her autism soon,” because not everyone is that lucky. When I wouldn’t reveal details about my sister, people would say the wrong things that would hurt more. “Can’t your sister drive you over here?” “Maybe you can be maid of honor at your sister’s wedding. Comments like that hurt more than telling someone about my sister’s condition. Sometimes I secretly wished she could drive me places and I could stand next to her at her wedding.
It is also difficult to have friends over because you never know what can happen. Autism is spontaneous. Megan could be running around naked, start having a violent tantrum, or have a grand mal seizure. Even though I live with my sister, I still can’t handle these situations fully. When she would become violent or have a seizure, my mom would tell me to go somewhere else. That place would either be in my room with headphones on, a friends’ house, or a sidewalk without a destination. I would sob constantly because not only is she hurting my mother, she is hurting herself. She is violent because of pain she can’t control in her body. She bites her arm until it sheds blood and bangs her head on the wall until there’s bumps. It breaks my heart every time. I wanted to help but, I still ran away because it was the easiest thing to do. There were a handful of times where I had to help with my sister’s violent episodes because my mother wasn’t home. One of her caretaker’s would be at my bedroom door knocking to get my attention. I was terrified to face my sister when she was violent, but I wasn’t scared because looking past the violence, I saw my sister in pain and I just wanted her to feel better and smile again.
By Teresa Conrick
My daughter, Megan, born in 1993, has had a diagnosis of autism since 1995. Throughout the years, Megan has suffered from perpetual infections. As a young child, she had chronic ear infections. She was put on antibiotics but never probiotics and back then, I was not aware of that very important connection. She also was bedridden numerous times, for days with mysterious viral infections and fevers, rashes, and also gastrointestinal distress. Diarrhea and constipation then took over with blowout enuretic episodes. In 2000, her behavior began to escalate. Biting, screaming, breaking glass on the hard floors and pouring liquids out on any carpet she could find. Odd, perseverative and destructive behaviors became the norm. Doctors constantly told me, “it was her autism” causing the behaviors but they were wrong. Stool testing, done by a doctor who was seeing other children then with similar issues and an autism diagnosis, revealed that Meg had a painful, protozoan parasite, Giardia lamblia, which colonizes and reproduces in the small intestine. She also had another persistent parasite, Blatocystis hominis, as well as chronic fungal infections from Candida albicans. It was also discovered that Meg tested intolerant to gluten and casein.
It took eighteen months to clear these infections – and those behaviors. Tears, prayers and hope were my sanity as I watched often helplessly as Meg led a life of suffering. I even remember getting a call from the Department of Public Health, inquiring how and when Meg began to have symptoms of this long-lasting Giardia, as if I had somehow ignored her plight. She was on prescriptions -Nystatin for the yeast and Flagyl (Metronidazole) for months to kill those microbial infections. I put her on a gluten and casein free diet, too. As the years marched by, we would be revisiting Flagyl for her numerous Clostridium infections. As soon as one infection seemed to be finally dissipating, another would take its place.
In 2007, Megan began to flush all kinds of things down the toilet – toothbrushes, shampoo caps, toys – whatever would make its way into that curious hole. Calling the plumber and doling out cash seemed to be happening more and more, the worst being for a small rubber ball that perfectly made its way through the toilet odyssey only to be lodged in the pipe in the hallway wall. The plumbers took mercy on me by finally introducing me to my very own “snake” thereby saving me hundreds of precious dollars that were needed more for biomedical treatments. Yes, this behavior was also related to infections. It seemed that each time Meg would begin this ritual of obsessive flushing, she would test positive for Streptococcus infection. Then began the odd, body tics; dilated pupils; urinary accidents; vocal tics and not wanting to walk through the doorway of her bedroom. Eating became less and less and she wanted to wear sunglasses all day and night. What stopped this – antibiotics AND probiotics– but, permanent removal of these devilish bugs and parasites would prove to be the journey we continue to travel. As puberty hit, hormones began to ramp up these behaviors and then grand mal seizures began.
Since first writing about Megan and PANDAS, I have had so many parents contact me about their children. Example, a good friend who cares for her grandson, also with an autism diagnosis, began to see new and increasing behaviors that were concerning. Some of those behaviors were beginning to happen at school and in places where people do not understand the connections between microbial infections and negative behaviors. Obsessive questioning about rabbis; church bells; long rages; dilated pupils; some talk of “what if” harm to others; wandering behaviors and frequent body tics in his sleep. Armed with a list of labs that I emailed to her, she was able to get some testing done and the evidence was clear – infections were running rampant in this teen:
By Teresa Conrick
In 1933, Autism was in its infancy -- literally, as the first eleven children, later to be identified by Dr. Leo Kanner, were toddlers or not yet even born. Vivian Murdock, the eldest, born in 1931, was most likely showing signs of the then, rare and bizarre “psychiatric” condition. I call it psychiatric because Kanner, a psychiatrist, declared it a condition brought on by cold-hearted parents, “a frosty atmosphere, with two inapproachable strangers.” He was so wrong. The common denominator for the eight children “found” thus far from those original eleven is mercury and vaccines. Thimerosal, the vaccine mercury, was making its debut in different locations around the United States as a preservative in Diphtheria shots. By age six, Vivian was gone from home and sent to a State Training School for the Feebleminded. She died in a state-run home in 1987, at age 56. Born in Baltimore, she would have been one of the initial six-month-olds to receive infant vaccinations with Thimerosal. For seventy years, we have been witnesses to ever-increasing numbers of children succumbing to the DSM diagnosis of autism spectrum disorders.
Ironically, in 1933, some other doctors of psychiatry made this enlightening connection :
“(1933), wherein neuropathologist Armando Ferraro and clinical psychiatrist Joseph E. Kilman of the New York Psychiatric Institute wrote the following in Psychiatric Quarterly journal :
‘It is far from our mind to conceive that all mental conditions have the same etiological factor, but we feel justified in recognizing the existence of cases of mental disorders which have as a basic etiological factor a toxic condition arising in the gastrointestinal tract.'
A toxic condition arising in the gastrointestinal tract? That sounds more like the true “atmosphere” of autism.
My own daughter, Megan, diagnosed in 1995 as the epidemic really began its ascent, has had seizures, starting in her teens and then an autoimmune diagnosis a year later. Her autism symptoms began not at birth but gradually appeared after each vaccination, most markedly after her MMR vaccine, when she broke out with a full body rash, fever, lost eye contact and then her words stopped. This is called Regressive Autism but -- what is it? Let’s look at evidence describing it and in doing so, let me share a quote:
“.....we sewed together separate lines of emerging research from multiple branches of medicine.”
And that is what we need to see with autism – so let’s take a look:
”By 1985 the incidence of regressive autism had equalled that from birth. By 1997 both types had increased although the regressive form was now >75% of the total occurrence. This suggests that an acquired condition was overtaking birth defects or purely genetic conditions……In the vast majority of cases, the emergence of autistic indications appears to happen in children who had developed normally[10,13,14], and before three years[15,16.]”
“About one in three children with autism abruptly lose language, social or other developmental skills in their second year of life…..The results come from the synthesis of 85 studies published between 1980 and 2010 that examined regression, and include nearly 30,000 participants diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder.”
“In the largest study of brain development in preschoolers with autism to date, a study by UC Davis MIND Institute researchers has found that 3-year-old boys with regressive autism, but not early onset autism, have larger brains than their healthy counterparts…..The study found that accelerated head growth and brain enlargement was consistently observed only in the subset of children diagnosed with regressive autism.”
On Thursday, November 14th, I was a lucky member of an intimate audience, marveling, crying and cheering during the world premiere of Joint Attention the first play ever to tackle the issue of vaccines causing autism. Not an easy topic in real life, I wondered how it would ever do as a play, while I skeptically drove from suburban Chicago to Sheridan Road on the cold, lake front.
My best friend since age 7, Sue, a witness to the devastating health effects my daughter Megan has endured since vaccinations and regressive autism, accompanied me. We both thought there was no way any play could capture how “a young couple struggles with their son’s autism diagnosis.” It turns out, we were so wrong.
Pat Curtis, the author of this play, “Joint Attention,” did an exquisite job showing us the effects of
an autism diagnosis while the actors, music and directing were brilliant, bringing it to life. But Pat did more than simply show what it looks like on the outside. She took us into the home of Claire and David, whose precious son had begun to regress. He had stopped having joint attention, lost eye contact, begun to scream, had diarrhea, was barely eating, developed rashes and - stopped talking - the regression that is increasingly part of an autism diagnosis. We are to hear from David that it was after vaccines, “many” in one day at fifteen months that his son changed and became ill.
Thimerosal, the vaccine mercury, a known neurotoxin and immune system monster, was a prime culprit. It was then that I realized I had forgotten to bring tissues. This familiar and horrific event happened to my own daughter eighteen years ago and it keeps happening still. Life and fiction, both strange yet real.
Pat then takes us into the hope and fear. David has hope. He reads on the internet about biomedical treatments and even finds a doctor who medically treats children with an autism diagnosis. He and Claire start the usual early interventions like, Speech and OT but it is the ABA and biomed, the diet, the vitamins and supplements, the probiotics, the hyperbaric oxygen, the detoxing and glutathione that brings back the eye contact, and begins to heal their child. Claire though, is fearful and her fear erupts into doubt, doubt about biomedical treatments and an allegiance to her pediatrician who denies the vaccine connection and subsequent success with biomed treatments. For those of us in the trenches of ill children diagnosed with DSM autism, this is our lives.
Some research suggests the microbiota may also be implicated in neurologic conditions. There are multiple interfaces where the microbiota could impact our nervous system…The microbiota also produces metabolites that are absorbed into the bloodstream, and some of these metabolites can cross the blood–brain barrier…..research has suggested that ASDs may be related to an altered microbiota”
By Teresa Conrick
The research on maternal antibodies as a cause of some cases of autism continues to grow. From TIME this week: "Mother’s Antibodies May Explain a Quarter of Autism Cases"
In a study published in Translational Psychiatry, researchers report that 23% of all cases of autism may result from the presence of maternal antibodies that interfere with fetal brain development during pregnancy. The work builds on a 2008 study from the same scientists that first described the group of antibodies in mothers-to-be.
This is interesting and important work as we continue to see autism as a disorder with roots to the immune system. It did make me wonder if it was possible that the maternal immune activation discussed here as a cause in 23% of the cases could correlate to immune activation created artifically by influenza vaccination. It seemed a valid point and one worth investigating especially when I saw this, also in that TIME article:
The antibodies belong to a class of compounds called autoantibodies, which are immune cells that the body makes to target — often mistakenly — its own cells. Scientists do not know why or when the mothers produce these antibodies, which appear to monkey with normal nerve development in the fetal brain by interfering with their growth, migration and genetic replication. It is possible that infections during pregnancy — a known risk factor for autism —can prompt the immune system to produce them. Exposure to toxic chemicals can also cause immune defenders to mistake healthy cells for invaders, Van de Water notes.
Note the last two sentences - the first related to infection in pregnancy and the second to toxic chemicals.
Can infection in pregnancy cause autism? I wondered about that and did some background reading and wrote this article in January, "Can Influenza Vaccines Cause Maternal Immune Activation Linked To Autism?
Mothers who get the flu while pregnant could risk affecting their baby's brain, which might lead to 'infantile autism' in their child.
A Danish study shows that children were slightly more likely to be diagnosed with the condition before the age of three if their mother had the flu.
Researchers claim that when the mother's immune system is triggered - for example, when they have an influenza virus - it is possible that the foetus' developing brain could be affected.
But they have clarified that pregnant women and mothers should not be concerned by the findings, as only a tiny portion of those who had influenza gave birth to children with 'infantile autism' and that the research was so limited and early that no concrete findings had been discovered."
Interesting. So why is it then that in 1918, the Great Influenza Epidemic swept the world, but yet autism was not identified nor described until Dr. Leo Kanner diagnosed it with those first eleven children born in the 1930's?:
“Since 1938 , there have come to our attention a number of children whose condition differs so markedly and uniquely from anything reported so far that each case merits—and, I hope will eventually receive—a detailed consideration of its fascinating peculiarities...."
So let's look at the mechanism described:
"..the pro-inflammatory cytokine interleukin 6, which is known to induce placental inflammatory processes46 and has been shown to mediate the neurodevelopmental effects of gestational inflammation.47 It is possible that such inflammatory processes could be related to the production of maternal antibodies that recognize fetal antigens through maternal-fetal cross talk48 or that maternal antibody to antigen interactions may precipitate inflammation-induced neurodevelopmental alterations similarly to bacterial or viral challenge."
On July 14, 2003, Dr. Bernard Rimland,
the man who changed the paradigm of autism, from the archaic and psychiatric,
refrigerator families to instead children, who regressed into a medically
treatable neurobehavioral illness -- wrote these words:
July 14, 2003
STATEMENT BY BERNARD RIMLAND, PH.D.
Director, Autism Research Institute
Editor, Autism Research Review International
Founder, Autism Society of America
THE AUTISM EPIDEMIC IS REAL, AND EXCESSIVE VACCINATIONS ARE THE CAUSE
The vaccine manufacturers, the Center for Disease Control, the FDA, and the various medical associations have failed miserably in their duty to protect our children. Rather than acknowledge their role in creating the immense, catastrophic rise in autism, these organizations have resorted to denial and obfuscation. They stand to lose their credibility, and billions of dollars in liability suits will soon reach the courts.
As a full-time professional research scientist for 50 years, and as a researcher in the field of autism for 45 years, I have been shocked and chagrined by the medical establishment's ongoing efforts to trivialize the solid and compelling evidence that faulty vaccination policies are the root cause of the epidemic. There are many consistent lines of evidence implicating vaccines, and no even marginally plausible alternative hypotheses.
As the number of childhood vaccines has increased 700%, from 3 in the `70s to 22 in 2000, the prevalence of autism has also showed a parallel increase of 700%.
onset autism, (starting in the 2nd year), was almost unheard of in the
`50s, `60s, and `70s; today such cases outnumber early onset cases 5 to 1, the
increase paralleling the increase in required vaccines.
Thousands of parents report - and demonstrate with home videos -- that their children were normal and responsive until suffering an adverse vaccine reaction. (The Autism Research Institute has been tracking such autism-related vaccination reactions since 1967.)
Mercury, one of the most toxic substances known, is used as a preservative in many vaccines. Some infants have had 125 times the maximum allowable limit of mercury injected directly into their bloodstreams, in one day, in vaccines. (People vary enormously in their sensitivity to mercury, because certain genes predispose to mercury sensitivity. The highly-touted New
England Journal of Medicine Danish study failed to mention the very convenient fact that none of the Danish children had prior exposure to mercury, since Denmark, unlike the U.S. had, banned mercury from childhood vaccines in 1992, the year before the birth year of the children in the study.)
There are numerous scientific studies showing large differences in clinical laboratory measures of blood, urine and biopsies which compare autistic children with normal controls. Such findings, pointing directly to vaccines as the cause of the group differences, are conveniently overlooked by those attempting to conceal the strong connection between the autism epidemic and excessive use of unsafe vaccines.
The truth must - and will - emerge. It is long overdue.
Bernard Rimland, Ph.D.
Director, Autism Research Institute
Editor, Autism Research Review International
Founder, Autism Society of America
I received that statement in an email from Dr. Rimland. I had never met him personally but he had read a post from me as many of us, parents, were in yahoo groups back in the late 90's and into the new millennium. We were searching for answers on how to help our very sick kids who had been diagnosed with the DSM word – AUTISM. I had shared how my daughter, Megan, born in 1993, had begun to speak and then gradually stopped before her 2nd birthday. She also had many illnesses and behavioral changes: throwing up, diarrhea, rashes, fevers, banging her head, no eye contact, appeared deaf, happy to sad, outgoing to shy, began obsessive behaviors and then -- was gone – but to the doctors - it was simply an autism diagnosis.
By Teresa Conrick
In 2012 at Autism One, I met Nicholas Glenski, a young man who said he hoped to "go the distance" and one day, cure himself of autism. He was so enthusiastic and inspired by so many speakers last year that now one year later, he, himself was a speaker at Autism One -- and he did a beautiful job!
I have to confess, when Nicholas called me one evening during the winter months and told me that he was giving a talk on autism and his road to recovery, I was nervous for him as I thought how could he talk about so many issues regarding treatments? Well, being the tenacious teen that he is, Nicholas simply decided to pick up the phone and call researchers, reach out to moms on FB who were treating their own children, and seek out help by reading all he could.
His dad, Richard, told me that this journey first started three years ago in St. Louis when he took Nicholas to an autism conference and they heard Temple Grandin speak. That set off a spark in Nicholas and then a profound desire to learn more, especially when he met a biochemist there who talked about biomedical treatments for autism. One of Temple's books was bought that night, and Nicholas was later reading it voraciously when he accidentally left it in his dad's car between visits. His dad saw it and decided to read it as well. He too felt more inspired, and when he heard that Temple herself was coming to St. Louis for a presentation, Richard surprised Nicholas by taking him there. Nicholas has since told me that Jenny's McCarthy's focus on her son's journey to recovery has made Nicholas a huge fan and also an avid believer in biomedical treatments for autism. Nicholas then began researching for himself because as he stated:
"I was trapped in my body. I could not get out."
I didn't understand why this "lumberjack guy" was talking to all of us parents about trees, Lignasan, and ethylmercury. My daughter became sickly and regressed in skills after vaccines -- many with the vaccine mercury called thimerosal. Bacterial and viral infections were then to be constant unwanted parasites in her life as her immune system took a direct hit. Meg was diagnosed with autism shortly after and just recently has been diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder. Dan seemed to me to be on the wrong trail. It took me a while to connect the research and see that these clues Dan, along with Mark Blaxill, had been discussing and writing about for quite some time were the first "puzzle" pieces to autism.
So on that September night, I was grateful and excited to finally meet with Dan. He had contacted me as he was coming into town to visit his sister, and wanted to know if I could meet them for dinner. I had become entranced with those children of the 1930s, those first canaries in the debut of mercury-containing vaccines, who were subsequently declared to have "Autistic Disturbances of Affective Contact". I had e-mailed Dan and Mark over the years as they researched their book, The Age of Autism -- Mercury, Medicine and a Man-made Epidemic. My father had been an ophthalmologist and surgeon from the 1940s until the 1980s, and thimerosal, the ethylmercury preservative, was a heavily used medical product in that field, too, and in his own office.
Over dinner, after we shared stories and tears about my daughter's descent
into illness after vaccines and the ultimate reality of severe autism, Dan
pulled out a crisply, folded copy from his jacket pocket of Leo Kanner's 1971
paper, "Follow-up Study of Eleven Autistic Children Originally Reported in
Dan and his sister, Rosie, were both so encouraging as he invited me to make
history and help trace the roots of autism. It was an easy answer for me,
"Yes!" Dan and Mark had already found some of the "original
11," so I knew it could be done and I was ready for the challenge.
Finding the clues to how autism first appeared was like trying to hit a bullseye; slowly, we got closer and closer. To find the cause, we had to go back -- back to the start.
Dan also shared about GPI, General Paralysis of the Insane, a horrific neurodegenerative disease that had quite an interesting story. GPI historically was seen as the end result of the sexually transmitted disease syphilis, a sly spirochete bacteria very similar to the spirochete of Lyme bacteria today, sickening the brain and rendering its victim slowly insane, finally losing the ability to talk, walk or recognize anyone. Yet Dan and Mark's research showed that GPI only seemed to occur in syphilis patients who had been treated with mercury, a standard of care for centuries up to the era of antibiotics that arrived with penicillin in the 1940s. Like acrodynia in childhood, a disease connected to mercury in teething powders, GPI began to disappear when antibiotics took over as the treatment of choice. It seemed to be a possible interaction between the microbe of syphilis and mercury that sparked GPI. State mental institutions around the country had thousands of GPI patients, often for years, as their insanity whittled them down to a shell of their former selves.
By Teresa Conrick, Dan Olmsted and Mark Blaxill
We found her.
Eight years after setting out to identify the 11 children in the first medical report of autism, we have found “Virginia S.”, the eldest child in that landmark paper -- and thus the first-born child of the Age of Autism.
Her real name: Vivian Ann Murdock. Born in 1931, Vivian was placed in a Maryland institution at age 6 and died in a state-run home in 1987, age 56. She was the daughter of a prominent Baltimore psychiatrist, Harry M. Murdock, and his wife, Margaret.
The key to finding her real name was the recent online publication of the 1940 U.S. Census – allowing one of us (Teresa) to test her hunch about the institution to which"Virginia" had been committed as a child: The Rosewood School in Owings Mills. The hunch was correct; the Census listed an "Inmate" there named Vivian Murdock, age 8 in 1940, who we conclusively identified as "Virginia S."
In Dan and Mark's The Age of Autism – Mercury, Medicine, and a Man-made Epidemic, published in 2010, we described the seven children we'd identified to that point, and wrote of “Virginia”: “We continue to search for this eldest child of the Age of Autism and whatever clues her identity may hold.”
Now, having spoken with family members, and pored over countless records and archives, we believe her identity does offer important clues, ones remarkably consistent with the other cases in that first report -- exposure to new mercury compounds in their families.
Vivian was directly in the path of at least three mercury vectors:
-- the first use of mercury-preserved vaccines in Baltimore -- a drive to vaccinate every infant with those shots began the month she was born;
-- her parents' avocation of orchid growing and breeding, which required intensive application of chemicals including mercury;
-- and her father’s psychiatric career, which brought him – and probably his family through second-hand exposure – in contact with mercury treatments for a common form of insanity.
Mercury is no longer used in agriculture or mental health treatment. But each year, 100 million children worldwide get vaccines containing thimerosal, the ethylmercury preservative first used in those shots in Baltimore. In the United States, flu shots, most of which contain mercury, are recommended for pregnant women and for infants beginning at 6 months of age.
Our research on Vivian and the other first cases of autism suggests that is a very bad idea.
Vivian’s identity also offers insight into how the damaging idea of “refrigerator parents” – supposedly cold and neglectful mothers and fathers responsible for causing their children's disorder -- got its start. We will explain these clues and conclusions in detail, but first the basics about the discovery of Vivian Murdock.
Seventy years ago this month, in April 1943, a psychiatry journal called The Nervous Child published an article titled “Autistic Disturbances of Affective Contact.” Written by Leo Kanner, a Johns Hopkins child psychiatrist who is widely considered the founder of the field, it begins:
“SINCE 1938, there have come to our attention a number of children whose condition differs so markedly and uniquely from anything reported so far, that each case merits -- and, I hope, will eventually receive -- a detailed consideration of its fascinating peculiarities.” Elsewhere, he called it "a behavior pattern not known to me or anyone else theretofore."
The three of us have always found those words remarkable, coming as they did from an acknowledged authority who eight years earlier had catalogued every known childhood mental disability in his landmark 500-page book “Child Psychiatry.” Those pages contained not a whisper of autism, or anything that in retrospect looks similar.
Our own research convinced us the autism rate before 1930 was effectively zero (it is now 1 in 50). A handful of cases over several centuries might conceivably qualify, but there was nothing approaching the cluster of children whose worried parents brought them to see Leo Kanner in the years between 1938 and 1943.
Curious whether the family backgrounds of those first 11 cases might point to common environmental exposures, we began trying to identify them in 2005. The eight boys and three girls were described in the paper only by a first name and last initial. But because Kanner gave birth years for each child, we knew that “Virginia S.” was the oldest; her birthday was listed as September 13, 1931. Even as the number of autistic children seen by Kanner rose in later years, none appears to have been born earlier. (In a 1955 update, Kanner revisited his first 42 cases. The oldest autistic person at that point was 24 -- born in 1931 and presumably Virginia S.)
We began our hunt with Kanner’s original 1943 "Autistic Disturbances" report and a follow-up paper he wrote in 1971. (In the latter paper, he slipped once and referred to “Virginia S.” by what we now know is her real first name, Vivian.) In “Autistic Disturbances,” he quoted a psychologist noting that Virginia “could respond to sounds, the calling of her name, and the command, ‘Look!’
“She pays no attention to what is said to her,” the psychologist said, “but quickly comprehends whatever is expected. Her performance reflects discrimination, care, and precision. … She is quiet, solemn, composed. Not once have I seen her smile. She retires within herself, segregating herself from others. She seems to be in a world of her own …”
By Teresa Conrick
It's official. According to a press release, today April 22nd, Moleculera Lab's website will be live, to start sharing information about testing for Pandas/Pans. I have been writing about PANDAS and PANS for the past few years as they seem related to Autism, and for many of our children, much suffering.
From their website - What is PANDAS and PANS, and now--- CANS?:
"PANDAS is an acronym for "Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorder Associated with Streptococci". PANDAS was first reported over a decade ago by Dr. Susan Swedo at the NIH, and affects children abruptly after streptococcal infections. Childhood Acute Neuropsychiatric Symptoms (CANS) and Pediatric Acute-onset Neuropsychiatric Syndrome (PANS) are proposed as a new, broader classification that would expand both the etiological infectious agents and the clinical manifestations, to the current description of PANDAS. This is an important development since there are reported cases of patients fulfilling the clinical criteria of PANDAS but laboratory studies are negative for a recent group A streptococcal infection. Published reports have postulated that stress as well as other types of infections can result in neuropsychiatric conditions, which include Borrelia burgdorferi (Lyme disease), Mycoplasma pneumonia, herpes simplex, common cold and varicella viruses."
How will testing help PANDAS/PANS/CANS and many childen also with an AUTISM diagnosis?
"Moleculera Labs provides personalized clinical testing services for individuals suspected of suffering from PANDAS/PANS, which are treatable neurologic conditions that may be associated with motor tics, obsessive compulsive disorders (OCD) and sometimes Autism Spectrum Disorders. This perplexing neurologic condition is believed to be associated with an autoimmune response triggered by commonly occurring infections which result in a patient’s antibodies targeting neurologic receptors in the body.."
This is very good news, and I am very thankful to Dr. Cunningham and her lab. Since Megan has an Autism diagnosis, an autoimmune diagnosis, and has had symptoms of PANDAS/PANS over the years, it is significant to finally be able to connect the many children and young adults who have tics, ocd, issues with eating, food and GI pain, rashes, agitation, aggression, sleep issues, enuresis, anxiety, hallucinations, regression in behaviors, regression in academics, and the gut wrenching effect of all of this on the families. Real medical treatments are essential.
By Teresa Conrick
The damage that mercury can cause to a body, continues to grow. This recent study, Mercury Exposure in Young Adulthood and Incidence of Diabetes Later in Life: The CARDIA trace element study, shows us the insidious nature of this poisonous toxin. Mercury compounds are known for their acute effects but less has been studied on long term effects. This study did just that and the results are alarming, yet not surprising to those of us who have been sounding our own alarm about mercury's danger here, at Age of Autism.
Some caveats from the abstract:
- Laboratory studies suggest that exposure to methylmercury at a level similar to those found in fish may induce pancreatic islet β-cell dysfunction.
- We examined whether toenail mercury levels are associated with incidence of diabetes in a large prospective cohort.
- A prospective cohort of 3,875 American young adults, aged 20-32 years, free of diabetes in 1987 (baseline), were enrolled and followed six times until 2005.
- A total of 288 incident cases of diabetes occurred over 18 years of follow-up.
- ....toenail mercury levels were positively associated with the incidence of diabetes.
The full study is only available with a subscription/purchase so I was able to read that for more information. The authors do describe how mercury is a toxin with widespread effects in both the organic and inorganic form. They also commented that it is fish consumption and amalgam fillings that are the major sources of exposure. They further elaborated that the mercury in fish consumption are at levels that can induce oxidative stress. That seems very significant and they do say that is the reason for the pancreatic islet b-cell dysfunction. They actually showed in a mouse that even low levels of mercury can cause pancreatic islet b-cell dysfunction. This should be national news as the devastating health effects have been shown.
Managing Editor's Note: Teresa Conrick reports below on the confluence of brain disorders in America as a report showed that a third of our seniors have Alzheimers at time of death and another report stated that 1 in 50 American school kids has autism. That's a pretty frightening bracket of life to use a March Madness phrase. Teresa asks, yet again, are these lkife altering"A" diagnoses related?
By Teresa Conrick
One out of three seniors is now dying with Alzheimer's disease. That's a frightening fact. We've reported here, on Age of Autism, that both Alzheimer's and Autism have connections with biomarkers and treatments (see Cuckoo for Coconut Oil.)
Coincidentally, about 30-40 percent (one out of three) adults receives an influenza vaccine. Is that a coincidence or is it a clue? Since both Autism and Alzheimers are each frequently quoted as being " A MYSTERY," is there a pattern to their well kept secrets? Alarmingly, there is much evidence that mercury, and Thimerosal, the kind of mercury in most flu shots, can cause immune and autoimmune issues . Is there a connection to immune issues and Alzheimers? We know Autism has numerous connections to the immune system, with many children and young adults also receiving an autoimmune diagnosis.
“Since 1938, there have come to our attention a number of children whose condition differs so markedly and uniquely from anything reported so far that each case merits—and, I hope will eventually receive—a detailed consideration of its fascinating peculiarities...."
By now, we all know that famous introduction to the paper, by Dr. Leo Kanner, which introduced Autism to the world.
"Since the 1930s, it [Thimerosal] has been widely used as a preservative in a number of biological and drug products, including many vaccines...."
Add in these studies which show adverse outcomes of immune and autoimmune effects through exposure to mercury/thimerosal:
"Low concentrations of HgCl(2) affect immune function in human cells by dysregulation of cytokine signaling pathways, with the potential to influence diverse health outcomes such as susceptibility to infectious disease or risk of autoimmunity."
"The different forms of mercury differ in the type and range of immune disorders, and ethylmercury (thimerosal) and inorganic mercury are similar in that they cause systemic autoimmunity, characterized by a marked increase of IgE and systemic immune-complex deposits "
"This study provides further evidence that mercury exposure may lead to autoimmune dysfunction and systemic inflammation in affected populations."
"mercury compounds may cause immunosuppression or immunostimulation, autoimmune reactions, or hypersensitivity."
"Evidence is emerging that exposure to mercury (Hg) may elicit many pathological manifestations, including immunomodulation."
"Hg was shown to actively increase the reactivity of the immune system in rodents. This immunostimulation led to the development of immunotoxic problems such as allergeric responses and autoimmune disease."
"..mercury exposure has been associated with cellular autoimmunity and mercury accumulates in the thyroid gland. "
"low-level, nontoxic iHg preexposure may interact with other risk factors, genetic or acquired, to promote subsequent autoimmune disease" development.
By Teresa Conrick
My beautiful daughter, Megan, will be 20 years old on March 2nd. The real heroes are the children, and now soon to be adults of this Autism Epidemic, who live each day in the shadow of pain. Meg is one of them. I write a lot about Autism, not to complain of my struggles, but to share the hope that we are turning the corner from the days of Autism being some type of "mental mystery," to its proper position --- an immune-mediated disease, that can present as neuropsychiatric and/or neurodegenerative. The "spectrum" that so many love to describe would be, in reality, a gauge of illness, of infection, and autoimmunity, and not some psycho-babble yardstick.
A recent article in the UK, Guardian, by Kristina Chew, a mother of a son with an Autism diagnosis, caught my eye recently, and also hammered in my head and heart, that there are definitely different opinions regarding Autism. While it is fine to have and share an opinion, it is another to add in questionable facts and information. From Ms. Chew:
"Do we really need a cure for autism? I've grappled with whether it's morally or medically right to talk about 'curing' autism.......Currently there is no known biomarker for autism, and the disorder is diagnosed based on observations by teams of experts. Most scientists agree that autism is of genetic origin and begins to develop while a child is in the womb. ......Autism is a lifelong disability that cannot be cured in a medical sense."
The link she provides for "autism is of genetic origin' will take you to the CDC website, with a hodge-podge of archaic gene/chromosome bullet points, put out by the same folks who walk the walk and talk the talk of the pharmaceutical/medical industry. Close your eyes and it is 1975, and we are hearing the defense of toxic leaded gasoline and the denial of environmental injury. I am not quite sure why CDC or Ms. Chew do not report this more recent study from Stanford regarding autism and genes:
"A new Stanford University School of Medicine study of twins suggests that non-genetic factors play an unexpectedly large role in determining autism risk, turning upside down recent assumptions about the cause of this common, disabling developmental disorder......It found that genes account for 38 percent of autism risk, with environmental factors explaining the remaining 62 percent.
"It took me a bit by surprise that the heritability of autism was so much lower than previous studies calculated," said Joachim Hallmayer, MD, the first author of the new paper...
The finding that autism risk is strongly influenced by environmental factors should alert scientists to the need to study risk factors they haven't been considering, the researchers said. In recent years, autism research has been focusing more on genetics."
I think that is a better and more current analysis of where we are now concerning any genetic connections in Autism. The focus does need to be on the environment, including vaccines, something we, here at Age of Autism, have been saying since our inception.
Do we need a cure for Autism? I think that is a disturbing question, kind of like saying do we need to stop pain and suffering? Do we need to stop Alzheimer's, Parkinson's or Cancer? Why yes, we do! There are thousands of children and young adults now, who wake each day in pain. Then the issue of morally, if we really look at what that means - decent, ethical, honest, honorable vs the opposite - dishonest, evil, unethical, wicked. Well, I'll take heaps and seconds on the former, as it seems morally reprehensible that these individuals should not be able to live and function in a body that feels good.
By Teresa Conrick
There have been numerous studies over the years, attempting to show a connection from maternal flu to autism. The original studies seemed to develop from the idea that those mothers who had flu during their pregnancy went on to have babies who later developed schizophrenia:
"Pregnant women who contract the flu may increase the risk that their child will develop schizophrenia later in life, according to a recent addition to a growing body of research along these lines. The study, published in the August 2004 Archives of General Psychiatry, “is not definitive but is the strongest evidence thus far that a prenatal virus may be a risk factor [for schizophrenia],” says lead investigator Ezra Susser, head of epidemiology at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health.
“Influenza infection during pregnancy appears to be a risk factor,” agrees Johns Hopkins University neurovirologist Robert Yolken, who adds it is probably one of many risk factors for developing schizophrenia..... Until more study is completed, the Mailman team still advocates that pregnant women get the flu shot. Susser says, “The very safest thing would be to get vaccinated against the flu virus before becoming pregnant.”
At the bottom of that page, we are shown a picture of a woman sneezing, with this caption next to her:
"A cold now, catastrophe later. Having the flu while pregnant may pave the way for future schizophrenia in children."
From this concept, research then on Autism having a connection to prenatal influenza was born. If you go on Pubmed and type in "Autism" and "influenza," 42 studies will pop up, the earliest in 1995, interestingly stating there is NO connection.
There were also studies showing no evidence in schizophrenia as well:
As we approach the one month anniversary, the terror and the possible future solutions to prevent mass killings, continue to keep the internet busy. I read two articles written by two different psychiatrists that I wanted to share, as each has a very different analysis of this horrible incident. Since my recent writing here on Age of Autism concerned Adam Lanza and the "P/M" factor [Psychiatry/Medication] I continue to read about this tragedy. I worked at a psychiatric hospital for 15 years, and therefore, I have a personal interest in the connection to Psychiatry.
Psychiatric Times sent out to their email subscribers, this article written by H. Steven Moffic, MD:
"Amidst all the initial speculation on the reasons for the tragedy, my wife noticed an e-mail from a psychiatrist that struck us as possibly revealing deeper issues, some perhaps indirectly relevant. The subject was “Autism not a Mental Illness.” Autism was one of the initial diagnoses associated with this killer. Beyond such premature diagnostic speculations, the e-mail was reacting to a CNN coverage in which a physician and a reporter discussed that autism may not be an illness, since NIMH was considering autism and other mental conditions as “neurogenerative.” Perhaps, the e-mailer suggested, if autism was not considered to be a mental illness, would that be better because then, if the murderer did not have a mental illness, mental illness could not be blamed for the mass murder."
"If indeed the perpetrator of the Newtown tragedy fell on the Autism spectrum, how often does a mass murderer have that diagnosis?"
"The more impersonal ways of relating on the internet may veer us more toward the social deficits and lack of empathy that is characteristic of the Autism spectrum."
"That is when I began to think more seriously of evil, as did many in the aftermath of this recent tragedy"
Soon after the tragedy, one of the fathers of a child killed tearfully pleaded for society to learn from what happened in order to prevent future mass murders. Here’s what I think psychiatry can contribute:
Here at Age of Autism, we have been sharing with our readers the realities of the increasing numbers of children being diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum Disorder. With that comes many topics, including vaccine injury and regression, school issues, adult housing and also various treatments. I have a daughter diagnosed with severe Autism and recently, an autoimmune disorder. Megan regressed in health and skills after vaccinations. With the continuing surreal killings in public settings over the years - schools, college campuses, malls and even a movie theater, the media has had a history of attempting to link some of these cases to Autism or Aspergers. You can read our recent statement Age of Autism Responds to Newtown Tragedy as this point is important: " Age of Autism mourns the deaths of all innocent victims of this awful crime and offers its deepest condolences to their families. Additionally, we are deeply disturbed by the association of the perpetrator of this awful crime by various media outlets to a vulnerable community - the autism community - with rumors that he was on the autism spectrum. Regardless of whether or not the shooter truly is on the autism spectrum, we wish to make it clear that autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) are in no way associated with criminal violence."
It is important then to look at reality and root causes because without them, it can be hard to find a solution. I would like to share some important data about these tragedies since we are all in the midst of a recent, gut-wrenching inciden,t but to do so, we have to go back in time, to look at patterns, something we think is important here on AoA.
On May 20th,1988,
Laurie Dann walked into an elementary school in Winnetka, Illinois and shot
five students, killing one. She was to kill herself later that day. I remember
vividy hearing about that as I was working at a psychiatric hospital about 15
miles away. It was a shocking reality to know that a school could become a
sitting duck to a violent mind. Here was a recent article about that horrific
day, the young boy killed, and the fact that school shootings keep increasing:
"Since then, there has been a school or campus shooting somewhere in the United States almost every year. In many years, there have been three or four campus or school shootings."
On Friday, December 14th, 2012, Adam Lanza, an unknown name to the world on December 13th, allegedly forced his way into Sandy Hook Elementary School, in Newtown Connecticut. There he allegedly shot and killed 26 victims, 20 young children and 6 female adults. He is also believed to have killed his mother before this attack and then killed himself after the attack. If you google his name today, you will see 517 million hits. A monster? What do these two cases have in common? Weapons? Murder? Yes, both were tragic crimes but also with another commonality -- the perpetrator had been treated by a psychiatrist. Another clue, is the lesser discussed use of medications that may have a bigger piece, in not only these two cases but in other savage and senseless deaths of innocent people:
School Shooters Under The Influence Of Psychiatric Drugs
"Despite 22 international drug regulatory warnings on psychiatric drugs citing effects of mania, hostility, violence and even homicidal ideation, and dozens of high profile school shootings/killings tied to psychiatric drug use, there has yet to be a federal investigation on the link between psychiatric drugs and acts of senseless violence."
"At least fourteen recent school shootings were committed by those taking or withdrawing from psychiatric drugs resulting in 109 wounded and 58 killed (in other school shootings, information about their drug use was never made public—neither confirming or refuting if they were under the influence of prescribed drugs.) The most important fact about this list, is that these are only the shooters where the information about their psychiatric drug use was made public. To give an example, although it is known that James Holmes, suspected perpetrator of a mass shooting that occurred July 20, 2012, at a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, was seeing psychiatrist Lynne Fenton, no mention has been made of what psychiatric drugs he may have been taking. Also note that all these mass shootings didn’t just occur in the United States:
1 -- Huntsville, Alabama – February 5, 2010: 15-year-old Hammad Memon shot and killed another Discover Middle School student Todd Brown. Memon had a history for being treated for ADHD and depression. He was taking the antidepressant Zoloft and “other drugs for the conditions.” He had been seeing a psychiatrist and psychologist.
2 -- Kauhajoki, Finland – September 23, 2008: 22-year-old culinary student Matti Saari shot and killed 9 students and a teacher, and wounded another student, before killing himself. Saari was taking an SSRI and a benzodiazapine. He was also seeing a psychologist.
My daughter, Megan, regressed in her physical, mental and social health after vaccinations. Her life forever changed, I am committed to finding out both cause then cure to improve her quality of life, along with so many like her. As a result, I spend a good amount of time reading research and scientific papers to help clarify any connections. Those connections would include immune issues, autoimmunity, mercury and vaccines. Megan has both an Autism and autoimmune diagnosis. Here are some connections:
"Among patients with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) evaluated in our clinic, there appears to be a subset that can be clinically distinguished from other ASD children because of frequent infections (usually viral) accompanied by worsening behavioural symptoms and/or loss/decrease in acquired skills. This study assessed whether these clinical features of this ASD subset are associated with atopy, asthma, food allergy (FA), primary immunodeficiency (PID), or innate immune responses important in viral infections..........Clinical features of the ASD test group were not associated with atopy, asthma, FA, or PID in our study but may be associated with altered TLR responses mediating neuro-immune interactions."
The authors' conclusion, that children with regressive Autism may have altered TLR responses, seems important so I went looking to see why that would happen. You can read about Toll-like receptors here but I also found an interesting dissertation that seemed pertinent:
"Herein we show that mercury administration results in release of endogenous ligands that activate TLR7, an innate immune receptor implicated in the development of systemic autoimmunity."
Interesting but since it was a short dissertation, I needed to find out more and luckliy, I found that dissertation had become a published research study:
Bacterial, viral, and parasitic infections have been implicated in the development and exacerbation of autoimmune diseases(6) . A number of other studies have shown that exposure to chemicals (drugs or heavy metals) can also trigger or exacerbate autoimmune disease (19,20,49,50). However, the effects of infections and chemicals on autoimmune disease have for the most part been studied separately, whereas human patients are likely to be exposed to both factors. Hence, in this study, we tested the effect of a commonly dispersed chemical and an infectious agent on autoimmunity. NKT cell ligand-bearing bacteria of the Sphingomonas strain are abundant soil microbes, and have been detected in the stools of 25% of healthy individuals (51). Although contact levels vary among individuals, mercury exposure is virtually universal because of its natural release in the environment, abundance as a pollutant, and presence in dental amalgams, cosmetics, preservatives, fumigants, and vaccine preparations (7,52). As previously demonstrated, normally maintained immune tolerance is broken by exposure to mercury. Administration of both mercury and bacteria induced pronounced anti-nucleolar reactivity and exacerbated the heavy metal-induced autoimmunity.
By Teresa Conrick
I just finished Susannah Cahalan's superb book, BRAIN ON FIRE - MY MONTH OF MADNESS, chronicling her bizarre and frightening trip into, and then out of the disease, Anti-NMDA Receptor Encephalitis. I have been writing about Anti-NMDA Receptor Encephalitis for the past two years, as it seemed to me, to have connections to my daughter's Autism diagnosis. Megan had, these past years, exhibited odd seizures, strange movements with vocal tics and aggression. Testing did not show antibodies to NMDA receptors but did show antibodies to GAD65, though the two appear connected.
Susannah vividly takes us along her journey from healthy twenty-four-year-old to seizures, hallucinations and entrance into the land of psychosis, with a very possible one-way ticket, to the end of the line. With loving parents and two brilliant neurologists, Josep Dalmau, M.D. and Souhel Najjar.M.D, throwing her a lifeline, Susannah ascends from Dante's hell from the immune treatments targeted at reversing the disease. It is a read that will keep you moving from page to page voraciously as you see the monster coming and want to see how it is ultimately killed. It truly seemed like a miracle as it is a horrific disease, seemingly on the increase and some don't make it out with one hundred percent of themselves, and some don't make it out at all.
Like daffodils in the early days of spring, my neurons were resprouting receptors as the winter of the illness ebbed. Susannah Cahalan p197
I want to thank Susannah for sharing her story and making the plea that so many cases are going unnoticed -- "How many children throughout history have been exorcised and then left to die when they did not improve? How many people are currently in psychiatric wards and nursing homes denied the relatively simple cure of steroids and immune therapy treatments that brought me back from the brink?"
She also brings up Autism and autoimmunity:
Two particular fields of study, schizophrenia and autism, will likely gain the most from this landscaping of the elephant. Dr. Balice-Gordon [Dr. Dalmau's colleague] believes that a percentage, albeit a small one, of those diagnosed with autism and schizophrenia might in fact have an autoimmune disease. Many children ultimately diagnosed with anti-NMDA autoimmune encephalitis were first determined to be autistic. How many children originally first diagnosed with autism weren't able to find their autoimmune diagnosis? p 224
My daughter, Megan, may be one of those children and I know that she is not alone. Some common denominators that I have written about regarding Autism seem to have a possible connection to Susannah's story --- infections, hormones and cancer, with a specific focus on Melanoma. I have discussed Melanoma as some families seem to have a vulnerability to both Autism and Melanoma and how that may be, as they related to glutamate signalling. Owning a cat, something Susannah also did, seems to put people at a higher risk for schizophrenia due to infection with Toxoplasma gondii, a parasite. Susannah had a history of Melanoma, had recently been on hormones via birth control and there was the possibility of a bug bite [bedbug], too, all clues into causation. Hormones seemed to be a trigger for Megan' s symptoms, as well. Susannah, in her book, further describes the changing landscape of autoimmune diagnoses:
Dr. Najjar, for one, is taking the link between autoimmune diseases and mental illnesses one step further through his cutting-edge research, he posits that some forms of schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and depression are actually caused by inflammatory conditions in the brain.
By Teresa Conrick
It is not new news that beta amyloid, a protein heavily studied in Alzheimer's disease has also been showing up in Autism:
2006 - High levels of Alzheimer beta-amyloid precursor protein (APP) in children with severely autistic behavior and aggression.
2011 - "The Weigel lab also reported observing secretions of protein called beta-amyloid in brain tissue of children with autism. Interestingly, the level of beta-amyloid related to the severity of autism and aggression".
2011 - Increased Secreted Amyloid Precursor Protein-α (sAPPα) in Severe Autism: Proposal of a Specific, Anabolic Pathway and Putative Biomarker
2011 - Accumulation of Amyloid-Beta Peptide Species In Four Brain Structures In Children with Autism - International Society For Autism Research
What is becoming more evident is that the roots of amyloid beta may be attached to the immune system - literally.
ScienceDaily (Jan. 4, 2012)- Autism May Be Linked to Abnormal Immune System Characteristics and Novel Protein Fragment
"Immune system abnormalities that mimic those seen with autism spectrum disorders have been linked to the amyloid precursor protein (APP)......The amyloid precursor protein is typically the focus of research related to Alzheimer's disease. However, recent scientific reports have identified elevated levels of the particular protein fragment, called, sAPP-α, in the blood of autistic children."
What made this something even on my radar was that I recently wrote about vaccine injuries from the H1N1 vaccine leading to Narcolepsy. I included a study that had this fact - "Beta -amyloid is not only of relevance in dementia processes but is also reported to modulate the response to environmental stressors in the brain, and is supposed to have antimicrobrial properties against different classes of microorganism, including some strains of streptococci." Since we like to connect the accurate dots here at Age of Autism, it seemed relevant that those two factors, beta amyloid and antimicrobrial poperties, may be important.
Consider these important findings in Alzheimer's research as they may then have a significant correlation for children who regress into Autism:
23 March 2010 - Microbes implicated in Alzheimer's
By Teresa Conrick
In 2011, I wrote about how drug makers were thrilled about the money expectations in treating glutamate receptor issues and Autism. Ironically, another new study will be again showing that glutamate receptors [ mGluR1] are not working properly in those who have an Autism diagnosis. This from The Wall Street Journal:
"ZURICH—Changes in the brain caused by autism can be reversed in mice, a new preclinical study showed, opening a potential path to develop a treatment for the incurable disorder.
Roche Holding AG,ROG VX +17% a Swiss drug maker, and the University of Basel's Biozentrum said Friday the study identified a way to reverse a dysfunction in the brain's wiring typically caused by the disorder, which stumps intellectual development and can cause aggressive and anti-social behavior, and becomes evident in early childhood.
The study results will be published in the Oct. 5 issue of Science.
Researchers found that reactivating a gene involved in the formation of synapses, or junctions between nerve cells, can scale down the excessive production of a receptor called mGluR1. In some autistic people this gene is not working. Controlling production of the receptor ultimately makes structural defects in the brain--which are typical of autism—disappear."
Yet we are not told WHY there are changes in the brain. Instead we are whisked off into the land of genes and structural defects. Here's another, from the NYT, heralding the big release of this study AND the money:Competitors Form Partnership to Develop Autism Drugs
"Two of the front-runners in the race to develop drugs to treat mental retardation [WOW - guess Mr. Pollack missed this back in 2010 ] and autism are joining forces, hoping to save money and get to the market sooner......“This deal will establish the biggest effort to date” in autism drugs, Luca Santarelli, head of neuroscience for Roche, said before the announcement. Financial terms are not being disclosed."
...The mechanism that has perhaps shown the most promise, at least in mice, is to damp signaling in the brain by blocking a receptor called mGluR5. [Note that the WSJ said mGluR1]
Roche will provide money to help Seaside complete its clinical trials of arbaclofen. Seaside will halt development of its own mGluR5 antagonist, which it licensed from Merck, and will instead receive royalties on sales of Roche’s drug.
The alliance could pose a challenge to Novartis. “This is No. 2 and No. 3 ganging up on No. 1,” said Dr. Michael Tranfaglia, medical director of the Fraxa Research Foundation, which sponsors research into treatments for fragile X syndrome.
Dr. Randall L. Carpenter, chief executive of Seaside, said the money from Roche was a needed diversification of the company’s funding. Virtually all of the $90 million Seaside has raised has come from the Barony Trust, which is run by Peter Whipp, a British investment manager."
The picture that is emerging is that there is going to be
loads of money - a BONANZA - in treating all of these symptoms! And it's
all GENES! Well, not really though you would not know that from all of
these articles. Autism is a HUGE money ticket for drug development but
the reality is that much of the mechanism of action from many drugs always takes
us back to the scene of the autism epidemic.
I have posted before about certain drugs targeting Autism symptoms and how each also targets MERCURY toxicity and damage:
Namenda (Memantine HCL)
N-acetyl cysteine (NAC) [This is an OTC antioxidant supplement that some companies are hoping to "investigate" for Autism. ]
By Teresa Conrick
Is Autism an autoimmune disease? I think for many it evolves into a disease of the immune system so that may swing that answer to a "yes." I know for my daughter who has an Autism diagnosis, she has tested positive for autoimmunity so the topic of immune functioning is important to me and also many other parents of children with an Autism and/or PANDAS [Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorder Associated with Streptococcus] diagnosis. Many of us saw both our children's health and behaviors change after vaccination.
Knowing that, it is particularly interesting that in 2010, there was a growing number of vaccine injuries that produced an autoimmune diagnosis, a frightening one -- Narcolepsy and Cataplexy.
The vaccine implicated was the H1N1 flu shot. Here is a group of related research and letters associated with this phenomenon that seems to be related:
Letter to the Editor—Dauvilliers et al, Post-H1N1 Narcolepsy-Cataplexy, SLEEP, Vol. 33, No. 11, 2010
"..The cause of narcolepsy is likely autoimmune based...As for most autoimmune diseases, twin pairs are most often discordant (65% to 80%), and environmental triggers are suspected to play a critical role.1 Most notably, two recent reports have found an association with past streptococcus infections,7,8 leading to the speculation that upper airway infections could be involved in many cases as a cofactor....."
"....In three major centers of reference for narcolepsy—Montpellier, France; Montreal, Canada; and Stanford University, United States—we noticed in the first months of 2010 an unusual increase in abrupt onset narcolepsy-cataplexy diagnosed within a few months of H1N1 onset....Of the 31 cases, 14 post-vaccination cases were identified....The post streptococcal marker ASO was positive in 11 cases
"...Of the 14 post-vaccination cases, 11 cases followed adjuvanated vaccination, while 3 were vaccinated without adjuvant. Delay between vaccination and cataplexy onset in these cases ranged from 2 days (strong local response followed by a generalized reaction following vaccination)to 5 months, although in 9 of the 14 post-vaccination cases the onset occurred 2-8 weeks following vaccination. As the delay between onset and diagnosis is often long,1,13 more cases are likely to be identified in the future."
"How could H1N1 vaccination or infection trigger narcolepsy?.....a specific immune response to H1N1 (and possibly subsequent molecular mimicry) or generalized stimulation of the immune system.....most cases followed vaccination with ASO3. This vaccine has been reported
to be associated with side effects suggestive of stronger immune stimulation.14 In the United States, where vaccination did not contain the ASO3 adjuvant, only 2 post-vaccination cases were documented......Nevertheless, these correlative findings indicate an urgent need for further examination of a possible link..."
By Teresa Conrick
A few months back, I wrote about a calcium-binding protein, S100B, as it had been implicated as a possible biomarker in Autism -- "Autistic children had significantly higher serum S100B protein levels than healthy controls." From that article -- S100B is a calcium-binding protein that is produced primarily by astrocytes. Increased serum S100B protein levels reflect neurological damage.
In my reading and researching, I came upon this sentence- "an increase of serotonin levels by fluoxetine [PROZAC] administration increased S100B concentrations....." which made me wonder if it could be possible that S100B might be a player in research showing that SSRI use in pregnancy might cause Autism. This is not fact -- it is a hypothesis but let's take a look at some points.
July 2011 Antidepressant Use During Pregnancy and Childhood Autism Spectrum Disorders
."...we found a 2-fold increased risk of ASD associated with treatment with selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors by the mother during the year before delivery.. with the strongest effect associated with treatment during the first trimester ..No increase in risk was found for mothers with a history of mental health treatment in the absence of prenatal exposure to selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors.........no association was seen for the small group of women who were prescribed a non-SSRI antidepressant only.......we found no association between ASD and a history of depression or a history of any mental health disorder..."
The underlining is from me, as emphasis, so you can see a contradiction presented on some sites. First from an Autism Speaks Blog:
"In fact, it’s not clear whether the autism risk associated with taking antidepressants during pregnancy is, in fact, related to the women’s depression rather than the drugs themselves."
I think it's important to emphasize that the writer of this Autism Speaks blog is appearing to state a fact -- that is just not true. She was not the only one. Here from an FDA site:
"This study does not prove that exposure to an antidepressant can cause autism. It is possible that depression, not the medicine, was related to autism risk." Are we seeing a pattern here where blame is being placed on the mother rather than the pharmaceutical product?
Now I think the authors of the SSRI study were clear:
- No association was seen for the small group of women who were prescribed a non-SSRI antidepressant only.
- No association between ASD and a history of depression or a history of any mental health disorder
So it seems that the use of an SSRI [ Fluoxetine hydrochloride -Prozac, Paroxetine hydrochloride -Paxil,
Sertraline hydrochloride - Zoloft and Fluvoxamine maleate - Luvox ] during pregnancy might influence an Autism diagnosis -- but how?
When I read that Prozac, not unlike Risperdal, could cause an increase in S100B, I wondered if SSRI use and S100B could be involved. Let's be clear that this is a small piece to the autism numbers, as the authors state: "The fraction of cases of ASD that may be attributed to use of antidepressants by the mother during pregnancy is less than 3% in our population, and it is reasonable to conclude that prenatal SSRI exposure is very unlikely to be a major risk factor for ASD. Although these findings indicate that maternal treatment with SSRIs during pregnancy may confer some risk to the fetus with regard to neurodevelopment, this potential risk must be balanced with the risk to the mother or fetus of untreated mental health disorders. We recommend that our findings be considered as preliminary and treated with caution, pending results from further studies...."
Here are some connecting dots that I would like to add:
- ....overexpression of S100B has been shown to accelerate Alzheimer disease-like pathology with enhanced astrogliosis and microgliosis (12). Because of these observations, the concept has emerged that S100B, when present in the brain extracellular milieu in relatively high amounts, might act as an unconventional cytokine and/or a damage-associated molecular pattern molecule playing a role in the pathophysiology of neurodegenerative disorders and inflammatory brain diseases..
By Teresa Conrick
It was last year that I reported on Anti-NMDA-Receptor Encephalitis and a connection to Autism. My daughter had some prominent symptoms and I was looking into the dynamics of this increasing medical condition. Meg tested negative and subsequent labs showed that her positive antinuclear antibodies [autoimmunity] to be associated with Gad65 [ glutamic acid decarboxylase (GAD) is an enzyme that catalyzes the decarboxylation of glutamate to GABA and CO2.] It is no coincidence that Megan's symptoms seemed to mirror some of those in Anti-NMDA-Receptor Encephalitis as the two, GAD65 and N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor, are connected.
Below is a study now showing that Anti-NMDA-Receptor Encephalitis has been added into the current Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders as a true, medical causation to an Autism diagnosis. In other words, an antibody causing autoimmunity can cause regression of behaviors and skills, and then appear to present as a primary psychiatric disorder . Immediate and proper medical care must be given to prevent further damage and permanent disability -- "Patients with early immunotherapy performed significantly better. The most severe deficits were observed with inefficient or delayed initial treatment. " --
Researchers must not be afraid to admit that vaccinations can cause this increasing and horrific medical phenomenon:
Anti-NMDA receptor encephalitis after TdaP-IPV booster vaccination: cause or coincidence?
Researchers must not deny its connection to other childhood immune disorders with cute names:
"In about 50% of the patients Mycoplasma pneumonia serum IgM is positive. Although the significance of this is unknown, infections may trigger an autoimmune encephalitic process akin to PANDAS (pediatric autoimmune neuropsychiatric illness associated with streptococcal infections) mediated by antistreptococcal-antineuronal antibodies."
Researchers must not avoid the Anti-N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor encephalitis connection to research involved in Autism and autoimmunity:
"NR1 and NR2b glutamate receptor immunoreactivity patterns are abnormal in the hippocampi of thimerosal treated SJL mice."
Tijdschr Psychiaty 2012;54(5):475-9.
[Anti-NMDA-receptor encephalitis: a new axis-III disorder in the differential diagnosis of childhood disintegrative disorder, early onset schizophrenia and late onset autism].
[Article in Dutch]
Psychiatrie & Psychologie, Masstricht.
Childhood disintegrative disorder (CDD), early onset schizophrenia (EOS), and late onset autism (LOA) often follow a similar course: initially, development is normal, then there is a sudden neuropsychiatric deterioration of social interaction and communication skills, which is combined with a decline in intelligence and reduction in daily activities. A 9-year-old boy was admitted to the paediatric ward with acute onset of secondary epileptic seizures. It was not long until the boy's symptoms resembled that of patients with cdd, eos and loa. Intensive tests led to the diagnosis of anti-NMDA-receptor encephalitis. Anti-NMDA-receptor encephalitis should be regarded as a possible organic cause underlying the syndromal presentation of CDD, EOS and LOA.
Teresa Conrick is Contributing Editor for Age of Autism.
By Teresa Conrick
There is no escaping the ever increasing research coming out weekly, showing solid science connections behind environmental and vaccine injury causing autism. One only has to read the news and research churning out inconvenient truths in science. Here are some recent examples that are reminders that those who continue to try and deny and dismiss damage to the human body are starting to lose the battle.
This first example originated two years age and is again hitting the news as there is such heated controversy. We'll call this inconvenient truth - blaming the scientist:
December 2, 2010 - Strange Discovery: Bacteria Built with Arsenic
"Menlo Park, Calif. – In a study that could rewrite biology textbooks, scientists have found the first known living organism that incorporates arsenic into the working parts of its cells. What's more, the arsenic replaces phosphorus, an element long thought essential for life. The results, based on experiments at the Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Lightsource, were published online today in Science Express........"It seems that this particular strain of bacteria has actually evolved in a way that it can use arsenic instead of phosphorus to grow and produce life," said SSRL Staff Scientist Sam Webb, who led the research at the Department of Energy's SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory. "Given that arsenic is usually toxic, this finding is particularly surprising."
Surprising as finding measles virus, chronic streptococcus and heavy metals in those diagnosed with Autism. For two years there has been a host of scientists, bloggers and institutions foaming at the mouth to stop this arsenic-bacteria research, yet the initial researcher and her collaborator will not yell "uncle" (good for them!) -- "Her collaborator, Ronald S. Oremland from the U.S. Geological Survey in Menlo Park, California, is glad to see the genome available and, with Wolfe-Simon, still stands behind the 18 words spoken 1 year ago. --- "Our data show evidence for arsenate in macromolecules that normally contain phosphate, most notably nucleic acids and proteins." We have our own heroic researchers and doctors that stand behind their studies, with all of us standing right along side.
Next item is a more recent study that also has hit the news creating quite a furor. This one, we'll call blaming the patient:
"Women infected with the cat parasite Toxoplasma gondii are more likely to attempt suicide than non-infected women, new research finds. The reason for this connection, however, remains mysterious. T. gondii is a protozoa that prefers to infect cats, but can make its home in any warm-blooded animal. Humans can pick up the parasite from contact with cat feces, or by eating undercooked meat or unwashed vegetables. Once ingested, T. gondii can make a home for itself inside the brain and muscle tissues, protected inside cysts that are resistant to attacks by the host's immune system.Some studies have linked infection by this parasite with a variety of mental health and brain problems, including schizophrenia, neurosis and brain cancer.....But in women with infections, they found, the risk of an attempt is 1.5 times greater than in women without.
"We can't say with certainty that T. gondii caused the women to try to kill themselves, but we did find a predictive association between the infection and suicide attempts later in life that warrants additional studies," lead researcher Teodor Postolache, a psychiatrist at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, said in a statement. "We plan to continue our research into this possible connection."
Good for them! More research is reasonable to help these poor people receive proper medical treatments as most have never received anything but psychotropic drugs when indeed, an infection appeared to be causing the behavior.
By Teresa Conrick
On May 31st, it was discovered that the federally funded Harvard Brain Tissue Resource had a problem. A freezer containing one-third of the brains of those who had an autism diagnosis was thawed. Fifty-four brains were now decomposing yet how this happened remains a mystery. Dr. Martha Herbert, MD, PhD, assistant professor of neurology at Harvard Medical School and a pediatric neurologist at Massachusetts General Hospital has also done brain research using brains of those diagnosed with autism. Dr. Herbert was contacted and reported back to us that this was not her lab.
We are reading all over the internet: "The freezer failure came despite two alarm systems that are designed to alert security and staff should there be a malfunction. Both alarm systems are connected to separate circuits, and the room containing the freezer is monitored around the clock, the hospital said. Twice a day temperature gauges on each freezer are inspected. Each freezer was reading normally, at minus 79 degrees centigrade. It was only when the door was opened that it became evident that the freezer had malfunctioned. Freezer failures are not uncommon in research, but for a freezer and two alarm systems to fail simultaneously is perplexing."
Yes, perplexing and heartbreaking as also in May and also recently in the news, a very young boy with an Autism diagnosis tragically died. We learned that Alexi LePoer, like so many children with an autism diagnosis, snuck out of his home and was later found at the bottom of a nearby pool. It happens over and over, the siren call of the lake, pool, pond to the young child and then the last breath of life. It is a nightmare that is increasing right along with the epidemic numbers of children being diagnosed with Autism. The LePoer family described their feelings and thoughts regarding their tragic loss. These wonderful and generous parents decided that donating their son's organs could help others, especially his brain. Alexi was severely impaired and had just started to use a few words and his regression into an Autism diagnosis is all too familiar:
"Like many children later diagnosed with autism, Alexei hit normal developmental benchmarks at first, making his later descent that much harder on the couple. There was no family history of neurological disorders, and the couple thought they were doing everything right.
By Teresa Conrick
Mainstream medicine seems to be toying around with the idea of "borrowing" scientifically sound interventions from the DAN (Defeat Autism Now) movement and other alternative doctors who treat autism. This recent article, Antioxidant shows promise as treatment for certain features of autism, study finds , is an irony on many levels. Some highlights, that we will call -- IRONY #1:
- A specific antioxidant supplement may be an effective therapy for some features of autism, according to a pilot trial
- The antioxidant, called N-Acetylcysteine, or NAC, lowered irritability in children with autism as well as reducing the children’s repetitive behaviors.
- Stanford is filing a patent for the use of NAC in autism, and one of the study authors has a financial stake in a company that makes and sells the NAC used in the trial.
- “One of the reasons I wanted to do this trial was that NAC is being used by community practitioners who focus on alternative, non-traditional therapies,” Hardan said. “But there is no strong scientific evidence to support these interventions
Interesting ..."no strong scientific evidence to support" seems hardly correct. Investigating NAC years ago, I discovered its use in Autism was most probably related to its use as a chelator of toxic metals.
There are 81 studies listed on Pubmed that deal strictly with N-acetyl cysteine and mercury. Here are some good examples:
- N-acetylcysteine as an antidote in methylmercury poisoning
" The present study demonstrates that oral administration of N-acetylcysteine (NAC), a widely available and largely nontoxic amino acid derivative, produces a profound acceleration of urinary methylmercury excretion in mice.....The ability of NAC to enhance methylmercury excretion when given orally, its relatively low toxicity, and is wide availability in the clinical setting indicate that it may be an ideal therapeutic agent for use in methylmercury poisoning."
- N-acetyl cysteine treatment reduces mercury-induced neurotoxicity in the developing rat hippocampus.
"Mercury is an environmental toxicant that can disrupt brain development....Here, based on its known efficacy in promoting MeHg urinary excretion, we evaluated NAC for protective effects in the developing brain. In immature neurons and precursors, MeHg (3 μM) induced a >50% decrease in DNA synthesis at 24 hr, an effect that was completely blocked by NAC coincubation.....Treatment of MeHg-exposed rats with repeated injections of NAC abolished MeHg toxicity. NAC prevented the reduction in DNA synthesis and the marked increase in caspase-3 immunoreactivity. Moreover, the intermediate-term decrease in hippocampal cell number provoked by MeHg was fully blocked by NAC. Altogether these results suggest that MeHg toxicity in the perinatal brain can be ameliorated by using NAC, opening potential avenues for therapeutic intervention."
- Thimerosal Neurotoxicity is Associated with Glutathione Depletion: Protection with Glutathione Precursors
"Thimerosal alone induced approximately 3-fold decrease in cell viability whereas pretreatment with either cystine, glutathione,
or NAC provided significant protection from cell death....It is likely that the extracellular NAC and glutathione provided partial protection by complexing with the Thimerosal in the culture medium as well as by increasing intracellular glutathione levels....The significant protection by NAC and glutathione ethyl ester against Thimerosal cytotoxicity suggests the possibility that supplementation with glutathione precursors might be protective against mercury exposures in vivo. Numerous clinical studies have demonstrated the efficacy of NAC in increasing intracellular glutathione levels and reducing oxidative stress in humans."
By Teresa Conrick
Autism One is always a superb menu of speakers and presentations and this year was no exception. Listening to Dr. Luc Montagnier, co-discoverer of the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and the 2008 Nobel laureate for Medicine, was fascinating and hopeful as he stressed how Autism has its roots in INFECTIONS, where bacteria, viruses and heavy metals cause the symptoms and behaviors. For many of us, that is not new information but hearing such a famous and brilliant doctor present data on ill children getting much better and some recovering health and lost skills, was simply amazing. Equally riveting and monumentally important, was hearing Dr. Andrew Wakefield present evidence of GI inflammation/disease and the devastation they produce for so many with an Autism diagnosis. This video, showed how dramatic and miraculous HEALING is when pain can be stopped and learning and functioning can then begin to advance. Dr. Wakefield quoted from his most recent book, this clear association that so many of us know from having ill children with gut pain and the connecting behaviors that manifest -- ....."the bowel bone's connected to the brain bone" .... a fact that most mainstream doctors have not yet fully acknowledged.
As fate would have it, I was to meet another inspiring and heroic man, this one was only seventeen-years-old, yet his mission and message equaled the two I have just described. While I was waiting to talk to a presenter, I watched this young man make his way over to a space near me, talking to a nearby mother, I heard his words - "I am recovering myself from Autism." I looked quickly as he smiled at me and I reached out to shake his hand, while I tried to hide my tears. "How", I asked him, "are you doing this on your own?" He began to tell me his name, "Nicholas Glenski", and that he and his Dad were up from Springfield, MO. (That's he in the photo with AofA's Jake Crosby.) I was so impressed that I asked if we could talk together, maybe I could ask him some questions for a blog about Autism? He smiled again and was very happy to oblige. Saying he was freezing in the air conditioning, with his dad's permission, we sat outside on a strip of warm, narrow grass, with the sun blazing above.
It seemed I was destined to meet this wonderful young man, as he reinforced what so many of us know -- that Autism for many means a sick body accompanied by symptoms and behaviors that wreak havoc for that person. He wanted help and healing from his Autism.
By Teresa Conrick
On Friday, May 25, I will be one of hundreds at The Autism One Conference, who will be listening to Nobel Laureate, Luc Montagnier, M.D., describe how bacteria can be involved in Autism:
"This correlation, which is based on more than one hundred children of European origin, naturally does not prove a causal relationship. However, a therapy first started by a group of independent clinicians and now performed in conjunction with laboratory observations reinforces the idea that systemic bacterial infections play a role in the genesis of symptoms of autism. Our GPs have observed that a long-term therapy consisting of successive antibiotic treatments with accompanying medications induced in 60% of cases a significant improvement -- sometimes even a complete resolution of symptoms. These children can now lead a normal school and family life."
Needless to say, I am very excited to hear his talk and also find out about treatments aimed at helping so many sick children. My daughter is one of them which is why I keep writing about Meg's long history of infections and her recent autoimmune diagnosis. So in keeping with that theme of infections leading to immune dysfunction and autoimmunity, I wanted to share some of what I have found as I continuously search both past and present for clues.
In 1999, as I was seeing my daughter's autism symptoms become more pronounced at age 6, The New England Journal of Medicine came out with an article entitled, "MOLECULAR MIMICRY AND AUTOIMMUNITY". Of course, I never saw it until recently because back in 1999, I had no idea that Megan's Autism diagnosis could be related to her ear infections, Strep and sinus infections, and the many unnamed viral illnesses that were relentless to her body. I would never have predicted that now, at age nineteen, she would have tested positive for an autoimmune diagnosis, so seeing this article made me wonder how was it possible that research and reports on autism since 1999 did not emphasize the IMMUNE SYSTEM? Instead we are bombarded with expensive genetic studies showing little connections to the REAL issues of Autism.
Here then is an excerpt from that 1999 NEJM study showing us a haunting connection to Autism today:
"AUTOIMMUNE disease is the consequence of an immune response against self-antigens that results in the damage and eventual dysfunction of target organs. Although the triggering event in most autoimmune diseases is unknown, an infectious cause has long been postulated to explain the development of autoimmunity. Molecular mimicry is one mechanism by which infectious agents (or other exogenous substances) may trigger an immune response against autoantigens." That would be where my daughter is now. So when I saw this next paragraph, I then realized WHY the issue of the immune system, infections and autism might be minimized and even denied: