By Teresa Conrick
My focus on the Microbiome and Autism continues into 2016. It is THE continual connection that research shows is lighting the way to medical treatments for so many severely and adversely affected. My daughter is one of them, and as a result, I read much of the published research on Autism, but also studies that I sense are related. Meg has both an AUTISM and an AUTOIMMUNE diagnosis. She showed symptoms of regression after receiving both a Hib-DTP vaccine [Tetramune®] and M-M-R® II (Measles, Mumps, and Rubella Virus Vaccine Live). She developed a fever for days, a fine, red rash and lost expressive language skills and eye contact. An Autism diagnosis was given at age 2 yrs, 7 months. More symptoms would come and increasing health problems with each passing year. She was diagnosed with seizures at age 16 and at 17, Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD). At age 18, she received an autoimmune diagnosis, with positive anti-nuclear antibodies. More recently, Meg's fingers and joints look inflamed and she is bothered by them. She is non-verbal. Treatments tailored for the Microbiome seem to be a hopeful avenue as her life has much pain. With that in mind, Dan's recent Weekly Wrap about Donald T was timed perfectly as I had just been connecting a few dots about Donald.
About this time last year, a study hit the the autoimmune world that to me, gave more credence to the significance of the Microbiome:
Decreased bacterial diversity characterizes the altered gut microbiota in patients with psoriatic arthritis, resembling dysbiosis in inflammatory bowel disease.
That title alone should connect some dots because for so many with an Autism diagnosis, the gut is the epicenter. Inflammatory bowel disease has been on the radar with regression and Autism for over ten years. The connections here are beyond serendipity.
Here was the Atlantic's story about it: Joint Pain, From the Gut
Scientists don't know what causes rheumatoid arthritis, but many suspect that the microbiome—the bacteria that live in our gastrointestinal tracts—may be to blame.....
Several recent studies have found intriguing links between gut microbes, rheumatoid arthritis, and other diseases in which the body’s immune system goes awry and attacks its own tissue.
It's no secret that I have always been intrigued with what Dan and Mark had written about Donald, based on their book : and the connections to the other first children that Kanner had described. I also wrote about the joint pain-microbiome connection last year, with not much attention:
Since 1938: Autism, The Microbiome and Donald Triplett, CASE 1 And an excerpt of what I wrote:
…."Scientists are increasingly focusing on how gut bacteria influence the immune system. Studies show the rate of autoimmune diseases is rising, and some scientists believe that may be due, in part, to changes in gut bacteria tied to unhealthy diets, the explosion of antibiotic use, and even anti-bacteria products."
Sound familiar? I’ve been reporting here almost nonstop on the MICROBIOME and AUTISM. CASE 1, Donald T could be considered GROUND ZERO on the issue of the microbiome being pivotal in autism.
BUT in doing so, consider those three listed reasons above as influencing bacteria in the gut -- “unhealthy diets, the explosion of antibiotic use, and even anti-bacteria products.” In the 1930’s, these three factors did not yet exist. What was new at that time were three, newly commercialized, ethyl mercury compounds: a seed disinfectant, a lumber treatment, and the vaccine preservative thimerosal. It is beyond coincidence that eight of the original "Kanner Eleven" have ties by location or occupation, to one or more of these compounds.......
I have been interested in the fact that MERCURY seems to be quite a contributor to antibiotic resistance and obviously the ramifications of that to the MICROBIOME would be significant.
Kanner described those first 11, showing signs of both GI and IMMUNE dysfunction, but he never recognized it. He was a psychiatrist and spent much of his time analyzing the families and not any of the signs of abnormal health in the children. This was his brief snapshot of Donald T as the parents reported (1938). It looks like a significant MICROBIOME CONNECTION :
...there were frequent changes of formulas. "Eating," the report said, "has always been a problem with him. He has never shown a normal appetite.
Here, too were some signs in the other first-diagnosed children:
• 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.
• Large tonsils and adenoids
• large and ragged tonsils.
• His tonsils were removed when he was 3 years old.
• He suffered from repeated colds and otitis media, which necessitated bilateral myringotomy
• He had been kept in bed often because of colds, bronchitis, chickenpox, streptococcus infection, impetigo
• Following smallpox vaccination at 12 months, he had an attack of diarrhea and fever
More on this topic later but back to Donald T and what this means today. For years, parents, researchers and doctors have seen the suffering of so many, with these issues:
Cyclic infections (often ear/throat - STREP) > Severe GI issues ( painful constipation/diarrhea/reflux) > REGRESSION into AUTISM > Abnormal EEG with or without seizure activity > Immune abnormalities > Mitochondrial dysfunction > Chronic seizures (onset often with puberty).
There were signs of these Microbiome clues with those first patients and even more so today. Let's look at Donald then in a new light:
Patient 1- Donald Triplett , received both a diagnosis of Autism and Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis. Science is now showing that both of those, Autism and Rheumatoid Arthritis , seem to be connected to a Microbiome that harbors less healthy bacteria and usually large amounts of pathogenic bacteria. The spectrum of Autism might actually be a barometer showing the health of the Microbiome, ie the bacteria, viruses and bacteriophages of each diagnosed individual. Parents and researchers for well over a decade have made this connection of gut to brain and now it seems well established.
Donald was treated with Gold Salts around 1946, and had a remarkable improvement in his symptoms of both Autism and Rheumatoid Arthritis, as Dan has reported . Science today shows us how that may have occurred and the MICROBIOME seems to be the reason.
So it was with great interest that I saw a study that again illustrated how gold salts could have helped Donald T and how technology today is improving upon that:
Functional gold nanoparticles as photothermal agents for selective-killing of pathogenic bacteria
Our aim was to demonstrate that functional gold nanoparticles can be used as photothermal agents for the selective killing of pathogenic bacteria.
This photothermal approach is effective for the inhibition of pathogenic bacteria cell growth, including Gram-positive bacteria, Gram-negative bacteria and antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
Very interesting but don't rush out to get gold nanoparticles as more improvements just came out this week:
Combating Antibiotic Resistance Goes Quantum
"Previous studies proved that nanoparticles made of gold or silver were effective at combating antibiotic-resistant infections but indiscriminately damaged the surrounding cells as well. However, quantum dots could be tailored to particular diseases thanks to their light-activated properties. The dots are inactive in darkness, but can be activated by exposing them to light, allowing researchers to modify the wavelength in order to alter and kill the infected cells."....The researchers are hopeful that the specificity and effectiveness of this innovation may help reduce or eliminate the potential side effects of other treatment methods, as well as provide a path forward for future development and clinical trials.
This is the type of research that Autism, Arthritis, plus many other neurodegenerative (ie-Alzheimer's, Parkinson's) and neuropsychiatric (ie-PANDAS, PANS, LYME ) disorders deserve. The improvement in Donald T seventy years ago was not only a blessing for him but for my daughter today and so many others. Let's heed its message.
Teresa Conrick is Contributing Editor to Age of Autism.