Autoimmune Disorders and Autism

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicate that approximately 1 in 88 American children, 1 in 54 boys, and 1 in 252 girls, are on the autism spectrum.  This is a 10 fold increase in diagnosis over the past 40 years with an estimated 10-17% annual growth.   General consensus is that there is no single cause for autism, and it is likely to be a number of different developmental brain disorders that produce similar clinical presentations.  It is suggested that an improved awareness in the diagnosis of autistic symptoms and increased environmental risk factors are two potential reasons for such a sudden increase in the incidence of autism type disorders.

Autoimmune disorders, genetic factors, nutritional deficiencies such as folic acid and other factors seem to be involved in the development of autism.

Autoimmune disorder, for example, is potentially a diagnosable and treatable cause of autism that requires more study.

It is estimated that 53 million Americans are suffering from autoimmune diseases, and many more have earlier stages of the autoimmune disorders.   Autoimmune disorders are referred to different stages of autoimmune malfunction where a person’s immune system produces antibodies against self-tissue. Review of current medical literature suggests that one-third of autism cases are the result of an inflammatory disease that began in the womb, due to the mother’s imbalanced immune system. Mother’s diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis, celiac disease, or Type 1 diabetes more than doubles the risk of autism in her child.

Accumulated body of literature indicates that some mothers of autistic children create antibodies to the brain tissue of their fetus, meaning the child is a born with a brain already developmentally altered by immune destruction.  Other studies confirm maternal antibodies can alter fetal brain development and subsequent behavior in the offspring if given intravenously to a gestating mouse or monkey.

Autism diagnosis, prevention and treatment are an evolving field and takes on urgency due to the high frequency and rapid growth of children diagnosed with autism.  It is imperative to focus the preventive and treatment efforts on the expecting mothers and develop an effective treatment protocols for children diagnosed with autism.

It seems, for unknown reasons, a significant percent of children diagnosed with autism no longer fit the diagnosis years later.  The intriguing question is, if this seemingly spontaneous recovery can be induced or accelerated with treatment interventions.

An astute pediatrician, specializing in integrative medicine, who is well versed in identifying this disorder, its different clinical presentations and its triggers, can make potentially significant improvement in patient’s medical condition and overall state of health.


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