By Teresa Conrick
The sketch you see of my daughter, Megan, was done by my neighbor, Ceil, when Megan was eight. She used a photo as Meg was never able to pose and Ceil wanted to capture the sense of Megan's autism. I think the likeness is stunning and the message haunting. Meg is unable to speak and yet she wants to desperately. Ceil and her family moved in 2004, right as my marriage was moving into divorce court. It was a hard year and honestly, this year may top it.
Megan is now eighteen and as I have written here Hormones Seizures and Autism a Dangerous Mix she began to have Catemenial Epilepsy in the Summer of 2010. It is an extremely unusual type of epilepsy as it comes violently, strikingly and fortunately, only one time monthly, announcing the rise of estrogen and impending ovulation. Megan is a victim of injuries to her body brought on by vaccines as a baby/toddler and this latest assault, like a sniper rising out of the shadows each month, is a reminder of why autism is so very dramatic in its medical and behavioral picture.
We completed a month of hormone testing to be able to get a more comprehensive view of what could be happening to cause Megan to violently convulse into a grand mal type seizure, leaving her incapacitated and then into a deep, deep sleep for hours. Before I share that data and a possible source of this mysterious medical monster, let me describe the behaviors that have been happening, especially since autism has been historically branded as "psychiatric" and the medical horrors downplayed as "anecdotal."
My sweet daughter who has no words is charming and beautiful but this experience has turned her personality into Mr. Hyde as the hormones surge. As we get closer to Meg's period, she begins to snort out of her nose loudly and often. Any professionally-trained DSM follower, would call this a "stim" or possibly "repetitive" behavior but they would be wrong. You see, as Meg's potent levels of hormones begin their crazy climb, estrogen especially, causes nasal swelling:
"ORL J Otorhinolaryngol Relat Spec. 2000 Jan-Feb;62(1):39-42.
Nasal Mucosal Swelling and Reactivity During a Menstrual Cycle.
CONCLUSION: There is a connection between high oestrogen level and nasal mucosal reactivity."
Another "behavior" is wetting and I mean frequent, horribly smelling and like clockwork each month. Again, easy to say that this is autism, a "developmental disability", thus issues of toileting would be included but again, they would be wrong. This is a young woman who knows how to use the toilet but something happens in tandem to the hormone surges. In keeping with the theme:
Tufts Mast Cell Inflammation HERE
"Critical Role Of Mast Cells In Inflammatory Diseases And The Effect Of Acute Stress"
Hormones and Mast Cells
"The bladder has a surprisingly high number of estrogen receptors which make the bladder sensitive to variations in estrogen levels found during the menstrual cycle. Why? The bladder, urethra, vagina and vulva are all part of the urogenital sinus, and began as one small cell in a fetus which later divided to create each organ. Thus it is not suprising that the bladder can be so sensitive to estrogen. High estrogen levels activate mast cells and can cause IC patients to experience an increase in pain, pressure and frequency. Many IC patients endure an increase in bladder symptoms during the times of the month when their estrogen levels are high, particularly in the days before their period"....."These finding could be important in view of the fact that mast cells express estrogen receptors."
Interesting, significant and follows into the autism research on mast cell activation, too. Another "autism behavior", THE DSM, Kanner, APA home run to autism - "encompassing preoccupation with one or more stereotyped and restricted patterns of interest that is abnormal either in intensity or focus." So at our house, as Megan's estrogen levels increase , you would see urine accidents, hear increasing nasal snorting and have to deal with the "abnormal, stereotyped and restricted pattern of interest" that Megan gets each month - rubber bands. Yes, another odd autism trait. She becomes obsessed with them and as the seizure gets closer with the toxic estrogen amounts, she will seek me out to get them, drop then down the laundry chute and be back to me in 30 seconds. This can go on for hours and can lead to frustration and aggression for Megan as she becomes the sorcerer's apprentice in Fantasia. Is that autism or a person trapped in a chemical stew causing odd and debilitating behaviors? For any of you reading this, many of you are screaming ... " but it's bacteria, like STREP, (P.A.N.D.A.S)., Clostridia",affecting the basal ganglia - and those would be correct but so is estrogen: - Pubmed HERE:
"Recent research suggests that estrogen regulates the activity of dopamine-containing fibers originating in the midbrain and terminating in the basal ganglia, and/or dopamine-sensitive cells in the basal ganglia. The mechanism by which estrogen acts is not clear, since cells in neither of these regions concentrate estrogens. Nevertheless, estrogens clearly affect behaviors mediated by the basal ganglia, as illustrated in human patients suffering from extrapyramidal disorders. Both biochemical and behavioral research in animals has confirmed that estrogen modulates basal ganglia function, but there has not been agreement concerning either the locus, the direction, or the mechanism of its action."
and an example:
"An unusual cause of recurrent chorea" Recurrent Chorea
"Recurrent chorea is described in a 61-year-old woman who had had chorea gravidarum when she was younger. The recurrent chorea appeared to be induced by a topical vaginal cream that contained conjugated estrogen. This case is consistent with the existence of a recurrent syndrome of hormone-induced chorea. The effect of estrogen on the basal ganglia is complex and not fully understood."
So let me share the results of the testing so you can see how these extreme behaviors then match the extreme nature of what is happening to my daughter's body and brain. Some people may say that estrogen is just in the environment more and girls are just more exposed today. I don't feel that is accurate in explaining what I see in Megan's case. I have added some research that seems to match much of Megan's symptoms and the data regarding her hormones. Since Megan had all but two of her vaccines with Thimerosal, the vaccine mercury, many of her medical, behavioral and now -- hormonal -- symptoms can be eerily connected to mercury. Those who worship vaccines and the companies that financially benefit may attempt to deny that Thimerosal could do what mercury does. That would be an oxymoron in more than one way.
Handbook On The Toxicology Of Metals: HERE- "Mercury vapor exposure resulted in prolonged estrous cycles and alterations in progesterone and estradiol levels"
- "a number of effects have been described in animals exposed to mercury, including alterations in ovulation and estrous cycle"
Megan's Hormone Results:
Estradiol Analysis: - Range: 22-110pg Megan - Total Cycle Estradiol Output: 162pg
- Progesterone to Estrogen Balance (P/E2) Luteal P/E2 Target Range: 30-40
- Megan Progesterone to Estrogen (P/E2) : 6
Follicular Estrogen Priming Index: a quantitation of Estrogen exposure in target tissues (uterus, breast, brain, bone, skin etc) during the follicular phase:
- Reference: 1032-5160 Patient Value: 8373
-"Bizarre Estradiol Pattern, Not Typical of Normal Cycle"
-"Possible Double Ovulation"
-"Possible Insufficient Drop in Estradiol in Luteal Phase"
"The endocrine effects of mercury in humans and wildlife" March 2009 '
The specific affinity that Hg has for the endocrine system, including the hypothalamus, pituitary gland, and ovaries, affects multiple endpoints in female reproduction." ....."Hg exposure can interfere with the production of estrogen in females, resulting in reduced numbers, size, and quality of eggs produced. Several studies have demonstrated that ovary development, egg production, and menstrual cycles can be severely altered in females following exposure to Hg." ..."The differences in effects on ovulation between MeHg and inorganic-Hg exposure are not easily explained, but Lamperti and Niewenhuis (1976) suggest that HgCl2 may have more potent effects on the HPG (ovarian) axis than MeHg has. This is a possible explanation for why HgCl2 inhibits ovulation despite a relatively low level of ovarian accumulation compared with MeHg, which does not delay or affect ovulation." ...."It has been suggested that Hg exposure causes fluctuations in the progesterone content in the corpora lutea via damage to the luteal-cell membrane. As a result, the cellular metabolism needed for steroid production is unable to function normally (Lamperti and Printz, 1973). Altered progesterone levels have been seen in a range of species, including rat, hamster, harp seal, and catfish, following exposure to Hg (Table 2; Davis et al., 2001; Freeman et al., 1975; Kirubagaran and Joy, 1995; Lamperti and Printz, 1973). Kirubagaran and Joy (1995) observed a decrease in cholesterol in the ovaries of catfish following exposure to both organic and inorganic Hg. Hg-induced inhibition of steroidogenesis results from a reduction in free cholesterol and esterified cholesterol, which are precursors for steroid hormone synthesis. It also causes inhibition of 3-HSD activity, which is the enzyme that catalyzes the conversion of pregnenolone to progesterone, as shown in the catfish (Clarias batrachus) (Kirubagaran and Joy, 1988b)."
A little information on Progesterone, which as you can see, Megan is very low in and will be the treatment that hopefully will end this nightmare of related medical behaviors and seizures.
"Progesterone is made from pregnenolone, which in turn comes from cholesterol. Production occurs at several places. In the women, it is primarily made in the ovaries just before ovulation and increasing rapidly after ovulation. It is also made in the adrenal glands in both sexes and in the testes in males."....",progesterone acts as an antagonist to estrogen. For example, estrogen stimulates breast cysts while progesterone protects against breast cysts. Estrogen enhances salt and water retention while progesterone is a natural diuretic. Estrogen has been associated with breast and endometrial cancers, while progesterone has a cancer preventive effect. Studies have shown that pre-menopausal women who were deficient in progesterone had 5.4 times the risk of breast cancer compared to healthy women."
"Emerging data indicate that progesterone has multiple non-reproductive functions in the central nervous system to regulate cognition, mood, inflammation, mitochondrial function, neurogenesis and regeneration, myelination and recovery from traumatic brain injury.".....'Remarkably, progesterone receptors (PRs) are broadly expressed throughout the brain and can be detected in every neural cell type. The distribution of PRs beyond hypothalamic borders, suggests a much broader role of progesterone in regulating neural function. Despite the large body of evidence regarding progesterone regulation of reproductive behaviors and estrogen-inducible responses as well as effects of progesterone metabolite neurosteroids, much remains to be discovered regarding the functional outcomes resulting from activation of the complex array of PRs in brain by gonadally and/or glial derived progesterone.
As you can see, my daughter Megan is very ill with dangerously high estrogen levels. Her DHEA level was also high at 23 ng/ml when the reference range is 3-10 ng/ml. DHEA is also a neurosteroid, the major secretory steroid produced in the adrenal glands, the gonads and the brain. When Meg is in the toxic trance for days, with severe OCD, flat affect, rigid body movements, limited eye contact, poor eating, urine accidents, aggression, etc,. it is horrible and heartbreaking. This is autism at its worst but in reality, this is a medical cascade of symptoms that connects toxins, hormones, the body and the brain, and if we see it in that way, the correct way, there are solutions and treatments to help these canaries of the autism epidemic. Mumford and Son's have a song called, "The Cave," and it has become our theme song. The words speak to the journey we are on:
Because I need freedom now, And I need to know how, To live my life as it's meant to be
But I will hold on hope, And I won't let you choke, On the noose around your neck
Teresa Conrick is a Contributing Editor to Age of Autism.