As I was drinking my coffee and catching up on the news this morning the first 2 stories that jumped out at me are both discussing the relationship between gut health and autism. Only yesterday I was talking to someone about how almost all the autistic kids we know are plagued with chronic gut problems such as diarrhea, constipation or worse Crohn’s disease. We were discussing why this was so. Indeed B has struggled for almost 7 years with diarreah, someitmes so bad that it burnt his skin. We have managed to control it somewhat with a multitude of diet restrictions, but even so, it’s miserable to say ‘no’ all the time to him. No to ice-cream, birthday cake, pizza, corn chips, candy etc. All horrible junk food of course, and nothing anyone should eat on a regular basis but just occasionally we would like to not hover at a birthday party, or restrict a classroom bash.
So was Dr. Andrew Wakefield wrong or did the media hound and hunt him down on a technicality? Was part of his research actually valid? This recently published article in the Journal of Neuroimmunology states that – “…Children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) who exhibit chronic gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms and marked ﬂuctuation of behavioral symptoms exhibit distinct innate immune abnormalities and transcriptional proﬁles of peripheral blood (PB) monocytes…”
The other article appeared on Dr. Mercola’s site this morning. To read in it’s entirety: Dr. Mercola The article discusses the possible connection that Helen Ratajczak, The author of the review, has found regarding both vaccines and gut etiology in regards to rising rates of autism. “…A new scientific review reveals there are a host of peer-reviewed, published theories that show possible connections between vaccines and autism. The author of the review, Helen Ratajczak, did something that no one else has apparently bothered to do — review the complete body of published science since autism was first described in 1943.
The article found numerous documented causes of autism caused by encephalitis following vaccination. Ratajczak goes on to discuss many potential vaccine-related culprits, including the increasing number of vaccines given in a short period of time. …”
It’s worth reiterating at this point, that although my assumption is now that my son was triggered by a childhood trauma that started his journey, originally he was diagnosed with autism when he was 3.3 years old. Indeed I truly believe that this diagnosis was good at the time. His symptoms matched many of the criteria for an autism diagnosis, including echolalia, stimming, limited social interaction and eye contact, limited speech, skin picking, tics, poor fine motor skills, limited interests, sensory processing disorder etc. etc. I now believe that these were just a list symptoms that at best mimicked autism, but now I also understand they can cover multiple different diagnoses.
Anyway, the fact is, parents of children on the spectrum and parents of children like mine are increasingly perplexed by the gut and nutrition factor involved with these disorders. Many pediatricians and even a gastro doctor told us that diarrhea in toddlers was very common and indeed we were given a hand-out that explained simply that “toddler diarrhea” is very common, but as number 6 on the lists states: “6. Reassurance- this is difficult because parents have been to many physicians and are convinced that their child has a serious illness. It is important after making your recommendations to follow-up soon to reassure again and watch weight and height gains.” For me that meant I felt like I was a little insane to think that food or something else was playing a part in his extreme diarrhea.
In fact it wasn’t until I went to a local Naturopath that we discovered he had not 1 but 2 parasites, in addition to multiple food intolerances, allergies and things he would better be avoiding. Due to the parasite our son also had a vast overgrowth of yeast and anaerobic bacteria, all of these things combined made for one miserable little boy, understandably. Unfortunately for him it took me a while to get to someone who made sense. I am always a little perplexed that it wasn’t the medical doctors but other parents on support boards and alternative health practitioners who helped us remove the parasites, yeast and bacteria and move onto healing his gut, which we are still doing. I understand that now there are more and more doctor’s advising nutrition as a place to start but 6/7 years ago that certainly wasn’t the case. I have been told more than once that “special diets are too restrictive, unnecessary and noneffective most of the time, so why bother putting us both through that?” and for a while I took their best advice, in the end it turned out that they were wrong.
What we know now is that he is allergic to multiple foods, grains and environmental substances including pollen and mold spores. It took a long time to figure it out, and it has taken even longer to clean it up. These new studies are encouraging in that they at least point to a real symptom and a possible cause, which means that it maybe that there is more information and solutions to follow. Let’s hope so, because parents of kids with significant gut problems are left to figure it out or just deal with it. Until we are actually told by our doctor’s that what we put in our mouths affects our entire body, including our brains, most people will ignore any advice to the contrary. I am sure both these research papers will be ridiculed and guffawed at, I am sure that doctor’s will still hold true to the fact that some children are adversely affected by “toddler diarrhea” but any information that points out that gut and brain and linked will only help parents in the long run.