If you have read this blog for a while, you know that I am a passionate advocate for those with health challenges, including those with Autism. Though my daughter does not currently have an Autism diagnosis, as we have met others who are confirmed or suspected of mitochondrial disease, it has become clear that the 2 conditions are closely intertwined. Last year through Facebook and this blog, I did a lot of “Awareness” posting about Autism. This year though, I am in a much different place, emotionally and educationally in my quest to put all the pieces together. I truly believe that this country needs no more AWARENESS… recent figures have estimated that 1 in 50 School Age children have Autism. There is hardly a mom, dad, grandma, grandpa, aunt, uncle, school teacher, or community leader that is not impacted in some way by Autism. We are all WELL AWARE… AUTISM is an EPIDEMIC. Many organizations are calling for AUTISM ACTION this month, which I whole heartedly support. But in an effort to keep one more parent from going down the path that we have been on with our family and that so many are on with their children, I am choosing to share what I have gathered regarding some theories that may lead to Autism PREVENTION, in hopes that one LESS child may receive this diagnosis…and NOT one MORE.
Some of the Research:
Associations regarding family history of type 1 diabetes and infantile autism and maternal history of rheumatoid arthritis and ASDs were confirmed from previous studies. A significant association between maternal history of celiac disease and ASDs was observed for the first time. The observed associations between familial autoimmunity and ASDs/infantile autism are probably attributable to a combination of a common genetic background and a possible prenatal antibody exposure or alteration in fetal environment during pregnancy.
The AutoImmune Diseases in this study included:
Endocrine autoimmune diseases: T1D, Thyrotoxicosis, Autoimmune thyroiditis, Primary adrenocortical insufficiency,
Connective tissue autoimmune diseases: RA, Juvenile arthritis, Dermatopolymyositis, Polymyalgia rheumatica/temporal arteritis, Scleroderma, Systemic lupus erythematosus, Sjo¨ gren syndrome, Ankylosing spondylitis, Wegener granulomatosis
Gastrointestinal autoimmune diseases: Celiac disease, Crohn disease, Ulcerative colitis
Blood autoimmune diseases: Pernicious anemia, Autoimmune hemolytic anemia, Idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura
Nervous system autoimmune diseases: Multiple sclerosis, Guillain-Barre´ syndrome, Myasthenia gravis
Skin autoimmune diseases: Pemphigus, Psoriasis vulgaris, Alopecia areata, Vitiligo
Maternal Autoimmune Diseases, Asthma and Allergies, and Childhood Autism Spectrum DisordersA Case-control Study
After adjustment for maternal factors, only 1 autoimmune condition, psoriasis, was significantly associated with ASDs (adjusted odds ratio, 2.7; 95% confidence interval, 1.3-5.8). A greater than 2-fold elevated risk of ASD was observed for maternal asthma and allergy diagnoses recorded during the second trimester of pregnancy.
The most common autoimmune disorders in both groups were type 1 diabetes, adult rheumatoid arthritis, hypothyroidism, and systemic lupus erythematosus. Forty-six percent of the autism group reported having relatives with rheumatoid diseases, as compared to 26% of the controls. Prenatal maternal urinary tract, upper respiratory, and vaginal infections; asphyxia; prematurity, and seizures were more common in the autistic group, although the differences were not significant. Thirty-nine percent of the controls, but only 11% of the autistic group, reported allergies. An increased number of autoimmune disorders suggests that in some families with autism, immune dysfunction could interact with various environmental factors to play a role in autism pathogenesis.
Comorbidity of allergic and autoimmune diseases in patients with autism spectrum disorder: A nationwide population-based study
A total of 1596 patients with ASDs were identified, and were found to have a significantly higher prevalence of allergic and autoimmune diseases than the control group. Patients with ASDs had increased risks of asthma (OR = 1.74, 95%CI = 1.51–1.99), allergic rhinitis (OR = 1.70, 95%CI = 1.51–1.91), atopic dermatitis (OR = 1.52, 95%CI = 1.30–1.78), urticaria (OR = 1.38, 95%CI = 1.12–1.69) and type 1 diabetes (OR = 4.00, 95%CI = 1.00–16.00), and a trend toward increasing comorbidity with Crohn’s disease (OR = 1.46, 95%CI = 0.90–2.35). Our results support the association between ASDs and allergic diseases, and autoimmune comorbidities (type 1 diabetes and Crohn’s disease).
It turns out this is NOT A NEW CONCEPT… here is an article from 1971 showing a connection with Autoimmune conditions in a family with autism, making me wonder just how many children with autism today, also have autoimmune conditions that go undiagnoses because the “autism” is found first and many of the other “symptoms” are attributed to that.
A family is presented to demonstrate the rare phenomenon of early infantile autism in the presence of autoimmune disease. The youngest son in the family has a multiple diagnosis of autism, Addison’s disease, and moniliasis. The next older brother has hypoparathyroidism, Addison’s disease, moniliasis, and diabetes mellitus. The next older brother has hypoparathyroidism, Addison’s disease, moniliasis, and alopecia totalis. The oldest son and first born child in this family of four is, along with the parents, symptom free. Whereas autism in the youngest son might be attributed to the traumatic family situation, in which there exists the constant threat of near-death, it might conceivably be attributed also to a primary effect of autoimmune impairment from the formation of autoantibodies affecting the central nervous system.
For a number of year the Government has been looking into this also, and funding research specifically through the IACC (Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee), though it is unclear what the consensus is or what preventative measures can be taken NOW.
Question 3: Short-term Objective E
3SE. Support at least two studies to determine if there are subpopulations that are more susceptible to environmental exposures (e.g., immune challenges related to infections, vaccinations, or underlying autoimmune problems) by 2012. IACC Recommended Budget: $8,000,000 over 2 years.
How to Possibly Prevent Autism?
While are these studies are great at investigating if there is a connection between autoimmune disorders, family history and autism, none of them offer any hard and fast solutions as to what can be done to PREVENT it.
Here is one mom’s educated opinion based on real life experience that focuses on PREVENTION, which she voiced at an ASD Prevalence meeting at the CDC in 2011.
On the subject of what I see in my office, I’d like to say that the studies you have referred to today do not apply to my patients. A running theme of older fathers, more educated parents, or children born less than a year after their older siblings is NOT what I see. But here is what I DO see in our patients:
1) Military children vaccinated (the word vaccine or any derivative of, was never murmured in this meeting until the mothers stood to speak at public comment) repeatedly because their records do not follow them fast enough
2) Premies and sick newborns being vaccinated
3) And the biggest running theme: family histories of autoimmune and bipolar diseases.
Most vaccines are contraindicated for those with immune system issues. So I would like to point out that it is irresponsible to jump into vaccination with newborn babies when the status of the immune system and mitochondrial function are unknown.
In conclusion, I suggest:
A sticker on the outside of the pediatrician charts denoting an autoimmune family history so that full vaccination does not occur. I believe this would alleviate the incidence of the sick children coming into my office.
Talk to your family,ask questions, know your family history, know the risks of Autoimmune Disease and Autism and make informed medical decisions for you and your child.
Question. Think. Prevent. NOW.
Read the entire series here: