The Microbiome In Regressive Autism
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
It seems that more and more research is finally making connections to the regression children experience as they begin symptoms of autism and the dysfunctional microbiome most of the children have:
We are just beginning to understand what comprises a “normal” gut microbiome, but there are already associations between unhealthy states and abnormal or imbalanced gut microbiota…..And in autism spectrum disorders (ASD), there are hints that the gut microbiome may play a role. Studies of fecal DNA extracts have found Clostridium or Desulfovibrio clusters over-represented in children with gastrointestinal complaints and ASD as compared to children with similar GI complaints but typical neuro-behavioral development32–34. Furthermore, clinical improvement has been reported anecdotally in children with ASD who develop fever35, receive oral antibiotics36, or ingest probiotics37, all of which are likely to alter the gut microflora.
So we see normal babies who have GI issues and then begin to regress in skills. They then receive a diagnosis of autism:
• Regression is most often observed between the first and second birthday, with mean ages of regression reported across different samples between 16 and 20 months.
• GI microbes thus influence brain function and behavior through several sets of complex pathways.
• “Immune Changes Linked to Regression, GI Distress & Repetitive Behaviors” : Some children with autism appear to develop normally in the first year or two of life. They then regress, losing developmental skills, particularly in sociability and communication. Studies have linked this autism pattern with greater frequency of medical problems such as GI distress…… Dr. Ashwood’s team found that children with more dendritic cells had more severe repetitive behaviors. They were also more likely to suffer chronic constipation. In the digestive tract, dendritic cells engulf many kinds of bacteria – both dangerous germs and normal digestive organisms. They carry these bacteria to lymph nodes to trigger various types of immune responses.
“We know that the relationship between gut bacteria and host immune responses are very important.” Dr. Ashwood says. “If these immune cells react inappropriately to gut bacteria, this could lead to inflammation. Changes in dendritic cell function could impact and disrupt many immune processes including T cell activation and autoantibody production that have been shown to be dysfunctional in autism,” he adds.
• Thimerosal is an organic mercury compound that is used as a preservative in vaccines and pharmaceutical products....Thimerosal induces TH2 responses via influencing cytokine secretion by human dendritic cells…. Studies in humans document similar finding, where chronic exposure to low doses of elemental mercury or mercuric salt results in excessive T cell activation, increased serum IgE, and development of antinuclear antibodies [21 22 23 24 25 26].
• Proinflammatory and regulatory cytokine production associated with innate and adaptive immune responses in children with autism spectrum disorders and developmental regression
• These cytokines appear to have been derived from microglial and astroglial cells and also implicate that disturbances of the innate immune system are relevant in ASD.
• “Developmental Regression and Mitochondrial Dysfunction in a Child With Autism” : Autistic spectrum disorders can be associated with mitochondrial dysfunction. We present a singleton case of developmental regression and oxidative phosphorylation disorder in a 19-month-old girl…..
A 19-month-old girl was born after a normal full-term pregnancy. There was no family history of autism or affective, neuromuscular, or hearing disorders. Her development was progressing well, with normal receptive and expressive language and use of prelinguistic gestures, such as pointing for joint attention. Imaginary play and social reciprocity were typical for age. She used at least 20 words and could point to five body parts on command. Several immunizations were delayed owing to frequent bouts of otitis media with fever.
Within 48 hours after immunizations to diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis; Haemophilus influenzae B; measles, mumps, and rubella; polio; and varicella (Varivax), the patient developed a fever to 38.9°C, inconsolable crying, irritability, and lethargy and refused to walk. Four days later, the patient was waking up multiple times in the night, having episodes of opistho-tonus, and could no longer normally climb stairs. Instead, she crawled up and down the stairs. Low-grade intermittent fever was noted for the next 12 days. Ten days following immunization, the patient developed a generalized erythematous macular rash beginning in the abdomen. The patient’s pediatrician diagnosed this as due to varicella vaccination. For 3 months, the patient was irritable and increasingly less responsive verbally, after which the patient’s family noted clear autistic behaviors, such as spinning, gaze avoidance, disrupted sleep/wake cycle, and perseveration on specific television programs. All expressive language was lost by 22 months.
•What happened to little, red-haired Hannah Poling is hardly unique in the world of autism. She had an uneventful birth; she seemed to be developing normally — smiling, babbling, engaging in imaginative play, speaking about 20 words by 19 months. And then, right after receiving a bunch of vaccines, she fell ill and it all stopped.
Are these cases of vaccination and then regressive autism rare? Hardly. Science is showing how the immune system and the microbiome are big clues.
• We report demographic and clinical characteristics of children reported to the US Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) as having autism or another developmental disorder after vaccination. We completed 124 interviews with parents and reviewed medical records for 31 children whose records contained sufficient information to evaluate the child's developmental history. Medical record review indicated that 27 of 31 (87%) children had autism/ASD and 19 (61.3%) had evidence of developmental regression (loss of social, language, or motor skills).
This line of important research is not new. We will continue to report the truth:
• Primary gastrointestinal pathology may play an important role in the inception and clinical expression of some childhood developmental disorders, including autism. During the past 4 years, it has been my privilege to work with one of the finest pediatric gastroenterology teams in the world, headed by John Walker-Smith, on an innovative and challenging investigation of gastrointestinal pathology in children with autism. We believe that this work will provide new and important insights into the pathogenesis of this devastating condition. Although the primary causes of autism may be diverse, clues to the possible origin of the disease may be found in the history and clinical investigation of affected children. This talk focuses on the significance of gastrointestinal symptoms in autistic children, in particular, a subset of children for whom the clinical course is characterized by regression after at least 12 to 15 months of normal development.
The Gut–Brain Axis in Childhood Developmental Disorders, Wakefield, Andrew J. 2002
Interesting question Benedetta, How does a mother's impaired immune system affect her milk and her baby through her milk? I'm sure that has been studied, but don't know off hand. I wouldn't easily trade what nature has refined through millions of years of evolution with something Pharma cooked up in the last several decades.
Posted by: Linda1 | July 15, 2014 at 12:36 PM
I just thought I would throw this in here in case anyone is interested.There is a very new,and possibly rare,type of mitochondrial disease,only seen in autism.It has only been discovered in the last few years.It is different from any other type of mitochondrial disease,because it does not involve a mitochondrial deficiency,but overactivity.It is most likely due to epigenetic changes in the mitochondria.It impacts folate,B12,carnitine,glutathone, fatty acid,and porphyrin metabolism,and can cause epigenetic polymorphisms in methylation genes.CFD and FRAs are a feature when Complex IV is involved.
So if a child has abnormal porphyrins,in addition to these other metabolic markers,or has FRAs,there is a very good chance they have this type of mitochondrial disease,rather than just metals.I have now had enough tests to say there is a very good chance this is what I have,and I am going to Arkansas Children's Hospital to see Dr.Frye in a few months.The best test to see if this type of mito is the problem,is a muscle biopsy,or a buccal swab to test the levels of each complex.
Dr.Frye has published two articles about this.Neither are easy to understand.
There is also a page in a 2013 autism textbook on Google Books with a very good summary.Start where it says "Mitocellular Hormesis"
As the author of this chapter says,the mitochondria in autism is very different from non autistic mitochondria,and very little of it has been studied.
Posted by: Roger Kulp | July 15, 2014 at 11:25 AM
I thought I should return here and report that inulin after a a whole years worth of experimenting with it -- sun chokes and all -- is found not only in sun chokes or jerusalem aritchokes -- that is in the tubars of great big sunflower like plants but also in garlic, aspargus -- onion probably
Smaller amounts are in things like the sweet potatoe.
I am telling you -- it just hurts our stomachs -- we can not take the inulin -- maybe it looks like that we have a bad gut bug we are feeding it to instead of a good bug.
Posted by: Benedetta | July 05, 2014 at 04:04 PM
Oh Betty How sweet!
I don't use much of the sunchokes cause I had such a hard time getting it - only about Two Tablespoons in my recipe it really works.
You are welcome to come to my house, or I could give you the recipe if you wish. They make - a great kind of cracker in the dehydrator.
Thanks for Beyond a Century - advice -- that sounds better to me!
Posted by: Benedetta | April 17, 2014 at 02:03 PM
Mother's milk has IgMs - which has something to do with later production of IgG. I read some studies though seem to think that some mothers with an immune system that is over stimulated to one side of the immune system might be -- not so good??
But I think it is important ot breast feed anyway.
Also mother's milk is high in oligosaccharide which is again inulin.
The baby can not digest oligosaccharides or inulin but the benifical bacteria sure likes it.
Posted by: Benedetta | April 17, 2014 at 01:50 PM
Beyond a Century sells inulin in powder form. I haven't tried it so can't vouch for it. I didn't know I needed to try it. I want to come over to your house and have some of that inulin flatbread along with a lesson on all the things I need to know!
Posted by: Betty Bona | April 17, 2014 at 01:46 PM
Here's an article about banked human milk for adult illness that I found on a quick search:
I do know that traditional societies used human milk as a treatment for adult illness. It's something that modern society has lost. Many doctors will balk at the idea of human milk as a treatment or to give it to older children or adults because they have been trained to give drugs (by Pharma). They don't know anything else.
Posted by: Linda | April 17, 2014 at 01:19 PM
TO Martha Moyer
I have responded to you several times - I don't know if you are not getting my response though so I will respond again.
I know you had the flu -- and a butt born first baby.
I too have a friend that had a posterior birth and the baby was fine. I know that doesn't mean a posterior birth always will be okay since it means there is a chance it could suffer lack of oxygen and thus a brain injury.
I also referenced you to the study that said that if a pregnant woman's immune system is challenged it can lead to inflammation that could effect the baby. That is what is happening in regression too -- inflammation, vasculititis, lack of oxygen.
I asked Martha - if you were ever been vaccinated because it could well be that parents' immune systems are being taught by their previous vaccines to respond to infections with inflammation --
God Bless you and Roger - hugs to both of you.
Lisa: I loved your article about the fungus - for I do enjoy reading stuff like that.
I have been very disappointed in some of the Scientific America articles though -- well a lot of science papers seem to want to mislead rather than illuminate when they try to lean toward some political idea rather than pure science.
The article you brought up; not only talked about this one type of tropical fungus found in dolphins and some mammals way up in Canada, but also made reference to bats --which has nothing to do with the tropical fungus they were writing about.
There is a new -- different kind of fungus that has come out of Europe that American bats -- apparently are dying by the millions from - and is spreading by migration. They are thinking our American bats have no immunity to it. It is called the white nose syndrome.
I am not so sure about it being new though. 500 years is a long time for a fungus to just now be reaching our shores -I am not saying it is not possible - just what else is going on?.
When it comes to microbes and what grows and what recedes depends on the environment.
Exact temperatures - even a half of a degree can make all the difference in microbe's growth - and still some can be flexible too as in your tropical fungus in dolphins in Canada.
While this bats' fungus likes it really cool.
Speaking of liking it cool -- there have been some really cool, wet seasons in the east - could the weather be driving this bat fungus? The weather is maybe idea for the growth of this fungus, while weakening/stressing the bat host, also perhaps the weather is increasing the mosquito population which is causing more spraying of pesticides. Most Pesticides work on the energy cycle and immune systems.
To Teresa Conrick:
I look forward to more articles. There is a lot to know.
Ph makes all the difference just a small fraction of a change in Ph can upset the whole balance of microbes. This is very important in that the energy cycle or our own bodies regulate the Ph of our bodies. Think acidosis in diabetics.
In making pickles - do you have the right amount of salt, and right temperature -- too hot or too cold too salty - not salty enough - if everything is just right; it goes through very predictable stages of different microbes growing and then receding making room for the next kind of microbe. If the conditions are right. Something to consider.
Many Microbes that ferment - do so by eating foods high in carbohydrates turning them into vitamins especially the B vitamins, vinegar (again the Ph), and leaving us the fats. Which gets me back to the question how important it is to eat low carb -- Have we not enough microbes in our stomach to eat our carbohydrates and thus we are digesting more of those carbohydrates.
Sugar is believe it or not - like salt is used to preserve food. Microbes have a hard time digesting sugar.
Microbes are very specific about their nutrients too.They feed on things we have yet to dream about
Which leads me to Inulin.
Inulin; Not to be confused with insulin -promotes colon health because it selects for beneficial bacteria like Bifidobacteria and Lactobacilli. Inulin is a way that some plants store carbohydrates so they are not harmed by the cold weather. It is like starch -- but unlike starch we as humans are not able to digest inulin, and it is a great fiber for us. If we were all still living as cave men - we would be getting a lot of inulin in our diet for most plants store their carbohydrates in inulin form -- but we have selected plants now that have starch instead.. .
Speaking of inulin; I raised sun chokes last year which are very high in inulin -- never have I had to work so hard to harvest a bunch of tubulars -- they like to hide the dirt in their cervices. - I make dehydrated flat bread; which conatains sunchokes, chickpeas, coconut flour, sunflower seeds, coconut oil, and kefir. Does anyone know if you can just buy inulin with out having to put up with a bunch of falling over mess of sun chokes? : ) I am getting kind of tired.
Posted by: Benedetta | April 17, 2014 at 12:44 PM
What's missing from these case histories is how and what the children were fed from birth. If we're going to talk about the gut and the brain and antibiotics, probiotics, etc., the diet needs to be included in the discussion.
If I had a child with gut issues, I'd get my hands on human milk. Any woman who is breastfeeding a younger sibling of an older autistic child can give the older child some of her milk. It is anti-inflammatory, antiviral, antifungal, antibacterial, lines the gut with immunoglobulins that prevent invasion of the gut lining by pathogens and antigenic macromolecules. I'd give the older child (or adult) a couple of ounces every 2-4 hours as possible around the clock, to mimic the feeding schedule of an infant. That's just my educated guess as to the best dosing and schedule.
Note that human milk can transmit some infections because it is like human blood. In centuries past, wet nurses would feed other women's babies and that is how humans evolved, but today, that is considered unsafe. So, if a woman is not lactating herself, then she can get a prescription from a doctor and take it to a human milk bank where the milk is pasteurized and made safe. I do not know to what extent the pasteurization process decreases the active properties of the milk, and I would look into that, but I would still opt to try it. Currently, banked human milk is the standard feeding for hospitalized premature infants when the mothers aren't able to produce enough milk. Human milk is nature's antibiotic and probiotic and it is, as far as I'm concerned, one's best bet, and is without harmful side effects.
After writing that last line, I realized that that might not be true anymore, since Round-up has been found in human milk, along with many other chemicals. It is so sad and so criminal what is being done to life on this planet. I think I'd still try it if possible, but each person has to evaluate the benefits and risks for themselves.
Posted by: Linda | April 17, 2014 at 12:34 PM
So my question is...what if an individual has severe bowel issues but was born with autism at birth and never did face regression? That is my adult son.
Posted by: Martha Moyer | April 17, 2014 at 10:38 AM
Your input is very valuable. My focus is on what I see with my daughter, as you can tell by what I write. I think it is important to talk about all of the medical aspects of autism. I have some more articles coming up about the microbiome which connects some of these aspects. Again, the value of adults talking about biomed and getting better is remarkable and much appreciated. So glad you read us daily. Thank you!
Posted by: Teresa Conrick | April 16, 2014 at 10:54 PM
The abstract stated:
"We report demographic and clinical characteristics of children reported to the US Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) as having autism or another developmental disorder after vaccination. We completed 124 interviews with parents and reviewed medical records for 31 children whose records contained sufficient information to evaluate the child's developmental history. Medical record review indicated that 27 of 31 (87%) children had autism/ASD and 19 (61.3%) had evidence of developmental regression (loss of social, language, or motor skills)."
That seemed like important information regarding regressive autism. Thanks.
Posted by: Teresa Conrick | April 16, 2014 at 10:42 PM
There is a reason most MAPS doctors are fee for service.They get results.
I am very glad to see somebody else say this.It has taken me quite a while to see that not only is there a real increase in autism,but also that there are many,many different forms of autism,with many different causes.The main reason I come back here every day,is because nobody else will admit autism is a medically complex disorder,that causes a lot of sickness and suffering.I personally believe most vaccine induced autism may be due to a neurodegenerative autoimmune disorder,yet to be defined,triggered by too many vaccines too soon.With epigenetic changes that made kids more vulnerable to such things.Something other than PANDAS/PANS.
But since we are dealing with a diagnosis made by behavior and not medical tests,there are bound to be different causes,especially in people who developed autism before the MMR.Even if there are a fewer of them.
There is this mindset I see all the time from parents.Nobody ever regressed without vaccines,and autism not triggered by vaccines is not real autism.You have no idea how hurtful this is,how angry this makes me.I can't be the only one that feels this way.So much sickness,struggle,and grief of older generations of parents is swept aside.
AoA is unique and special.I would really like to see you expand more,to be more inclusive of writing about both older autistics,who are not of the ilk of Ari Ne'eman or Daryl Hannah,and about the struggles of families who deal with other rarer and inherited forms of autism.If you are going to ban me for this,then go ahead,but would rather you would not.
Posted by: Roger Kulp | April 16, 2014 at 10:35 PM
Thanks for your comment. I appreciate your thoughts and opinion. Did my article offend you though as I am not sure who/what you mean about " kicking at asd adults"?
I think it's great that you have done so much biomed and feel better. I also think your concern about the increase in asd and care regarding our kids is wonderful.
Posted by: Teresa Conrick | April 16, 2014 at 10:28 PM
I just looked up the NIH article you referenced and it clearly concludes that vaccines are not triggers for regressive autism (not surprising coming from the NIH). Why would you cite it right after saying "Are these cases of vaccination and then regressive autism rare? Hardly.", implying that it supports your position.
Posted by: Barry | April 16, 2014 at 09:56 PM
Don't get confused about shots and autism. Vaccine ingredients, such as live viruses are transmitted person to person, such as while pregnant. Therefore, only the mother need to be vaccinated to transmit the live virus measles to her child. I have seen this research on the Internet. It's there. But, it's more than just vaccines. It's the docs who avoid looking for the medial illnesses, who refuse to test for vitamin deficiencies and don't know how to test and interpret the labs anyhow, plus giving vaccines while ill. Many times, the non-degreed staff at the doc's office, gives the vaccines, with little to no doc involvement. If we could only sue, the docs would fear us more than the regulatory agencies. Just as witnesses to crimes fear the criminals more than the police, so they don't tell; the docs fear them more than the patients. There is no fear of patients because the laws state we can not sue unless the doc intentially did harm. This means the docs just do whatever anyone tells them to do without concern for the patient. It's always the money. If we paid cash to docs, I bet they would actually work for us.
Posted by: HeidiN | April 16, 2014 at 07:16 PM
I just read an appalling article in Scientific American called Health Threats from Fungi. It seems that there is a huge increase in this type of issue, possibly due to climate change but very puzzling. I am an adult with a diagnosis of ASD and have tried CD. One drop blew me away. This is powerful stuff and I only lasted two days. I will retry shortly. I think this is a promising avenue of research.
I have had huge GI issues including a biopsy proven case of celiac disease. I did a lot of chelation and lots of biomed and have now improved very substantially. I really don't have ASD anymore. However, I still look for more improvement and really care about these kids and the outrageous issue of runaway, for-profit vaccination. I am a little hurt, therefore, when some writers on this site constantly feel the need to knock adults with any ASD issues. Perhaps I don't even have it. I certainly have had years and years and thousands and thousands of dollars of medical treatment. It is not that I just want to stay home reading a book as someone wrote. It sounds mean to me. I care about these kids and what happens to them. But I don't like people being nasty about any adults floating around, rare as they may be. I know you parents have suffered terribly with these kids but I know a boy who grew up with me who had very classic mainstream autism. If he is still around, I guess he doesn't count either. He certainly doesn't just prefer to stay home and read a book.
There is undoubtably a huge increase in autism. This website is doing in my opinion a stellar job. But why always be kicking at any ASD adults. They may be few, they may really have another brain disease that is unrelelated. But I have spent decades on a GFCF diet and chelated for years. That sounds similar to me. Like mercury or something similar. Maybe you could actually learn something for someone like me. Anyway, I view autism as a political issue which everyone should be interested in whether they have kids or not. I don't think it should just be an in group and no one else counts at all.
Posted by: Lisa | April 16, 2014 at 07:05 PM
Anne J. Yes! Great results! Do it! Please join the FB group "CD Autism" where you can talk with parents who are using CD and seeing great results with their kids.
Posted by: Wrless1 | April 16, 2014 at 02:33 PM
My son had ASD dx at age 12 months then SPD at 12 months. He was delayed in Fine Motor and had senory issues in oral, auditory and balance and propisepual. Then at 18 months his gross motor took a dive and then at 2 1/2 his speech... He has NEVER had shots and had signs of ASD right at birth. So I am interested in more studies on regression both with and without shots. There is family history of ASD.
Posted by: Carrie | April 16, 2014 at 02:31 PM
As a young microbiology student; I found myself in an advanced micro Physiology class doing a lot of lab work for the professor on his project (publish or perish)
It was on the Candidis albicans -- the typical fungus that is suppose to live within us and on us - Symbiotically - keeping other bacteria and microbes in check.
That was 1978 -- it appears that more and more people were having overgrowths; and there was a growing interest in this fungus -- to the point that Professor Martin thought that any work on this fungus would get him published.
I myself at the time did not understand what an overgrowth of this fungus meant -- untill I received a DPT shot a year later. Then I found out what they were talking about.
Dang! Professor Martin was doing some really important work after all.
Posted by: Benedetta | April 16, 2014 at 12:20 PM
Thank you for posting this.
Can I ask if anyone on this site is using the MMS/CD protocol for stubborn gut issues. If so, what have your results been?
Posted by: Anne J. | April 16, 2014 at 10:16 AM
Thank you so much for posting this! Why was the study with the 19-month old child only a case of 1? Why are there not more studies on regression?!!! We need a lot more studies on this! AoA keep posting articles with the word "regression" or "regressive" in the title! it is so hushed up everywhere else and autism is talked about as something you are born with. Many of these kids remember regressing and losing their speech. It's so sad. Thank you for linking this to the micro biome. is it also linked to the sensory system? And what's the solution? In my son's case we used probiotics, strict diet, antifungals and other bug killers and other biomed and he still did not get better. So I am still looking for solutions. More research please for these suffering children!!!
Posted by: AutismGoAway | April 16, 2014 at 06:45 AM