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Last year in April, US Patent offices published a patent on probiotic therapy by a group of researchers at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena.
Sarkis Mazmanian and Paul Patterson, researchers leading the CalTech team, have put together a protocol for reducing symptoms of autism based on their research in mice.
In previous studies, Mazmanian and Patterson found that the offspring of mice infected with fragments of the flu virus were more likely to exhibit signs of:
- Repetitive and compulsive behavior
- Difficulty communicating
- Limited interaction with others
Autism is a disorder that can arise from an infection in the brain and the gut. Researchers have concluded that changing the inner ecology of the gut could help to correct or prevent behavioral abnormalities.
According to Patterson, viral or bacterial infection during pregnancy increases the risk a mother’s child developing autism spectrum disorder (ASD). (1)
Within this group, Patterson also found abnormalities in the gut and the immune system. The pups of mothers that had been infected with fragments of the flu virus all showed signs of a “leaky” or permeable gut.
The gut bacteria were also significantly different—so much so, that Mazmanian and Patterson fed mice with autism-like symptoms a probiotic cocktail of beneficial bacteria. They focused specifically on the species Bacteroides.
Researchers found that by changing the inner ecology of the pups, they could correct or prevent abnormalities in behavior. There was also evidence that the probiotic helped to heal leaky gut and turn off the molecules that signal a response from the immune system.
Autism and Its Relationship with Fungal Infection
Many mothers to children on the autism spectrum have either struggled for years with Candida yeast overgrowth or have taken antibiotics before or during pregnancy.
While doctors are not familiar with just how serious fungal infections can be, at Body Ecology we view autism as a disorder that arises from infection in the brain and the gut.
The recent work published by Mazmanian and Patterson is one step forward toward a deeper and more complete understanding of autism in the greater medical community. Few doctors will ever explain to a woman planning pregnancy or to a pregnant mother that antibiotics and diet contribute to Candida overgrowth.
Once the precious inner ecosystem of the gut is wiped out from antibiotic use or poor diet, Candida can quickly take over and invade the tissue of the intestines—leading to inflammation and a systemic infection that affects our organs, our immune system, our brain chemicals, and our hormonal system.
Our Inner Ecology Protects Our Children from Autism
In the past, there have been other studies that confirm the value of good bacteria in the gut of those with autism.
Frequently, those with autism will show signs of digestive distress, such as bloating, abdominal cramping, and diarrhea. Often, these signs of digestive problems appear around the same time as the behavioral symptoms.
What researchers often fail to remember is that the gut bacteria of a child are inherited from the mother or influenced by birth.
The birth canal is lined with healthy lactic-acid producing bacteria. As we are born, we are coated with these bacteria. On the other hand, when we are born through cesarean section, we are mostly colonized by bacteria found on the skin.
In 2010, Jeremy Nicholson at Imperial College London investigated 39 children with autism, 28 of their non-autistic siblings, and 34 unrelated children. (2)
Analyzing their urine, Nicholson found that each group had a distinct chemical “fingerprint.” The fingerprint of the children with autism was significantly different. Nicholson explains that, "The signature that comes up is related to gut bacteria."
While this study did not look at the mother’s inner ecosystem, history of infection, or immunizations, it does emphasize that the gut must be populated with good bacteria.
Don’t Wait for a Diagnosis: Know the Signs
We currently diagnose autism with a series of behavioral tests. A clear diagnosis is not usually available until a child is 2 to 3 years old.
In addition to digestive troubles like constipation and colic, one very early sign of Candida overgrowth in an infant is cradle cap. Most doctors brush cradle cap off as “dry skin” and normal. However, even if you remove the film of cradle cap from your baby’s head, it is a sign of underlying fungal overgrowth.
While not every infant with cradle cap will develop autism, cradle cap warns new parents that:
- The immune system of their child may be weak
- The inner ecosystem of their child may need extra support
The Body Ecology Diet Recovering Our Kids (BEDROK) community can assist you whether you are planning on getting pregnant or already have a child who is on the autism spectrum.
To learn more, visit: http://www.bedrokcommunity.org/
What To Remember Most About This Article:
Recent studies reveal that a viral or bacterial infection during pregnancy could increase the risk of a child developing autism. When researchers used probiotics to change the inner ecology of mice pups, they were able to correct or prevent behavioral abnormalities.
Many mothers of children with autism have struggled personally with Candida yeast overgrowth or have taken antibiotics before or during pregnancy. Autism may then stem in the child from a fungal infection in the gut or the brain.
Since gut bacteria in a child are influenced by birth, it’s critical to support their inner ecosystem with beneficial bacteria. Research has indicated that children with autism have distinctly different gut bacteria.
Parents can watch for signs of a fungal infection in their child, including cradle cap as an infant that can indicate Candida overgrowth. This is a warning sign that a child’s immune system may be weak and needs extra support.
For more information on gut health during pregnancy or autism, visit the Body Ecology Diet Recovering Our Kids (BEDROK) community at http://www.bedrokcommunity.org/. It’s never too late!
- PH Patterson, et al. Modeling an autism risk factor in mice leads to permanent immune dysregulation. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2012 Jul 31;109(31):12776-81. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1202556109. Epub 2012 Jul 16.
- JK Nicholson, et al. Urinary Metabolic Phenotyping Differentiates Children with Autism from Their Unaffected Siblings and Age-Matched ControlsJ. Proteome Res., 2010, 9 (6), pp 2996–3004. doi: 10.1021/pr901188e