My daughter, Megan, turned twenty-seven on March 2nd. I remember it like yesterday. My water bag broke gently on the 1st and I was put on IV antibiotics in the hospital. Labor was induced and Megan was born at 5:20 am. Her apgar scores were perfect and I was a happy and grateful mother. As the months went by, she seemed to react to her vaccines, crying, up all night with each one. After her MMR vaccine, she developed a full body rash, fever, and stopped talking. Endless ear infections began with one right after the other--or -- were they just the same one never to be cured? Antibiotics were prescribed with the hope she would have relief from the pain. Counting blocks ended and she just stared at them, tapping on them in a repetitive way. This continued, crying, gut pain, infections, rashes, food allergies, and self-injurious behaviors. An autism diagnosis ( pervasive developmental disorder) came right before her third birthday. Since then, seizures developed, autoimmunity was diagnosed, as well as Nonfamilial Hypogammaglobulinemia, a problem with the immune system that prevents it from making enough antibodies called immunoglobulins. Antibodies are proteins that help your body recognize and fight off foreign invaders like bacteria, viruses, and fungi. In addition, Megan has PANS which makes these infections so much worse. It has been a mission of
mine and so many other parents to try and figure out what happened for some important reasons ---
1 - How can I help my child?
2- How can I help other parents with their very ill children?
3- How can this infection-type of autism be prevented in other children?
I say this because a recent study brought all of this surfacing again as it is very pertinent for Meg and so many others affected with autism, especially those severely affected. Meg is one of them and her medical issues have been denied for too long from the medical community. Our children, no matter their ages, are very ill and the clues continue to show how their bodies are suffering and what science can do to help. Note too, that the authors call autism, a disease:
The gut microbiota (GM), which contains thousands of bacterial species, is a reservoir of antibiotic resistance genes (ARGs) called resistome. Early life exposure to antibiotics alters significantly the composition and function of the gut microbiota of children, which may trigger symptoms of autism spectrum disorder (ASD). …..Our results show an increase in ARGs in the resistome of the GM of children with ASD.
What this means is that those who have an autism diagnosis seem to have MORE gut bacteria genes that are resistant to antibiotics than children without an autism diagnosis. If antibiotics are unable to fight infections, a person can develop chronic infections and can be at risk of acute, life-threatening diseases. Antibiotics are being chosen as THE culprit but let's take a closer look. There are other connections that need to be explored.
Mercury Connections To Antibiotic Resistance
There is much research showing that these antibiotic resistant microbes can have other sources, like MERCURY:
Co-selection of mercury and multiple antibiotic resistances in bacteria exposed to mercury in the Fundulus heteroclitus gut microbiome The emergence and spread of antibiotic-resistant pathogenic bacteria is currently one of the most serious challenges to human health. To combat this problem, it is critical to understand the processes and pathways that result in the creation of antibiotic resistance gene pools in the environment. In this study, we examined the effects of mercury (Hg) exposure on the co-selection of Hg and antibiotic-resistant bacteria that colonize the gastrointestinal tract of the mummichog (Fundulus heteroclitus), a small, estuarine fish....our results highlight the possibility for the creation of antibiotic resistance gene pools as a result of exposure to Hg in contaminated environments.
The linkage between antibiotic resistance and metal exposure has been known for many decades, when it was first discovered that penicillinase was linked with mercury exposure (Fraser 1971; Richmond et al. 1964). Two mechanisms are involved in the possible linkages.Cross-resistance involves a single gene that confers resistance to both the antibiotic and metal, e.g., an efflux pump. Co-resistance is when separate traits are closely linked, e.g., on a transferable genetic element or operon, and are transferred together (e.g., Richmond et al. 1964). In both cases, metal exposure is sufficient to select and maintain AR genotype (Baker-Austin et al. 2006).
New Swedish research shows that plasmids containing genes that confer resistance to antibiotics can be enriched by very low concentrations of antibiotics and heavy metals....When these chemicals spread in the environment, bacteria with resistant plasmids will be selected. This indirectly results in antibiotic resistance increasing as well. What's more, in most environments there are complex mixtures of antibiotics, biocides and heavy metals that, together, have intensified combination effects,' Andersson continues....'These results are worrying and suggest that substances other than antibiotics that are present in very small quantities in the environment can drive development of resistance as well. The results underline the importance of reducing the use of antibiotics, but also suggest that our high use of heavy metals and biocides in various contexts should decrease too,' says Andersson.
The ‘ARG-BMRG cluster’ suggests that mercury and QACs are particularly likely to co-select for antibiotic resistance to a range of different classes of antibiotics. Although mercury compounds are nowadays rarely used in clinical settings and in agriculture, resistance genes to mercury are frequently found together with ARGs on plasmids, especially on plasmids with class 1 integrons and transposons . Recently, a correlation between environmental mercury exposure and increased antibiotic resistance has been observed in E. coli isolates from different human populations . Furthermore, 25 % of some 800 antibiotic-resistance plasmids isolated from clinical E. coli strains carried mercury resistance determinants . Genetic co-occurrences and empirical observations together provide indications that mercury can promote resistance to a wide range of antibiotics.
Results of the current meta-analysis revealed that mercury is an important causal factor in the etiology of ASD. It seems that the detoxification and excretory mechanisms are impaired in ASD patients which lead to accumulation of mercury in the body. Future additional studies on mercury levels in different tissues of ASD patients should be undertaken.
New Jersey preschoolers have highest autism rates in the nation, researchers say New Jersey preschoolers have the highest rates of autism ever measured in the United States, a rate that has increased faster than in other states studied, researchers at Rutgers University reported Thursday. The rate of autism among children in the state has tripled in a generation. ..."The explosive rate of autism is impossible to ignore,"
“Legacy” Mercury Pollution Still a Problem in New Jersey Meadowlands Waters “Legacy” mercury pollution from decades ago and miles away is an important source of contamination in New Jersey Meadowlands waterways, according to a Rutgers-led study that could help guide cleanup efforts.
Our results showed that Hg resistance genes in contaminated areas are exchanged between residing bacteria along with the antibiotic resistance genes and resulted in prevalence of antibiotic resistance among residing bacteria.
Study suggests link between environmental mercury, autism “The main finding is that for every 1,000 pounds of environmentally released mercury, we saw a 17 percent increase in autism rates,”....Large-scale mercury exposures such as accidental spills long have been implicated with developmental disabilities, but this study is among the first to examine the relationship between potentially chronic, low-dose mercury exposure and a developmental disorder such as autism, Dr. Palmer said.
There are connections here that need further research. Mercury has become a dirty word as it does have a connection to vaccines. It is important to be able to discuss its involvement in antibiotic resistance as this is a new development and an important clue in autism.
Other Connections That Need A Spotlight
Recent research suggests, however, that some pathogen populations are adapting in ways that help them survive in a vaccinated world, and that these changes come about in a variety of ways. Just as the mammal population exploded after dinosaurs went extinct because a big niche opened up for them, some microbes have swept in to take the place of competitors eliminated by vaccines.
The bacterial pathogen Streptococcus pneumoniae is a major public health concern, being 16 responsible for more than 1.5 million deaths annually through pneumonia, meningitis and 17 septicemia. Available vaccines target only a subset of serotypes and so vaccination is often 18 accompanied by a rise in the frequency of non-vaccine serotypes. Epidemiological studies suggest 19 that such a change in serotype frequencies is often coupled with an increase of antibiotic resistance 20 among non-vaccine serotypes......
“Vaccination”, another word that can cause a frenzy of emotions but it is important to look at data and how these medical phenomena occur. It ultimately comes down to --- how to help those very ill.
The Association between Autism Spectrum Disorder and Pre- and Postnatal Antibiotic Exposure in Childhood—A Systematic Review with Meta-Analysis Specifically, prenatal antibiotic exposure was significantly increased in children with ASD; however, postnatal antibiotic exposure was not.
Antibiotic-resistance has long been associated with the use and abuse of antibiotics. However, increasing evidence is suggesting that antibiotic-resistance is in fact a phenomenon that has been occurring in natural environments for thousands and possibly millions of years.,,,,,This has also enabled the characterization of ancient human gut microbiomes, which also include antibiotic-resistance genes..... Mummified gut remains represent a unique opportunity to characterize the microbiome and antibiotic-resistance genes prior to the antibiotic-therapy era. Surprisingly, mummies from the Inca and Italian nobility cultures showed to possess antibiotic-resistance-like genes similar to modern-day antibiotic-resistance genes .......
Some may find that incredible -- that ancient mummies had antibiotic resistant genes as there were not even any antibiotics then! But again, looking at the other known culprit that can cause this, mercury, we can see how antibiotic resistance could have happened . It’s worth mentioning that the first children ever identified with a new disorder coined, “autism” by Dr. Leo Kanner, were children born beginning in 1931 . No antibiotics then either, yet the parents had many connections to toxic chemicals, especially mercury . There is no denying that antibiotic resistance has increased over the years.
Our gratitude for this image from Clearview Health.
But as we can see from all of this research, there can be much more to this science of antibiotic resistance. It is crucial to look at the treatments also. We will do that in Part 2.