Archive | January, 2012

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Autism Treatment – Pandas, Probiotic Problems and Autism

Posted on 08 January 2012 by admin

PANDAS, PROBIOTICS PROBLEMS AND AUTISM
One phenomenon that I have seen with a number of kids on the Autism spectrum–some kids aren’t necessarily classically diagnosed with Autism but who have the characteristics of something called PANDAS–is a condition in the body that is triggered by a streptococcal infection, specifically Group A Beta Hemolytic Strep. In this case, individuals develop obsessive compulsive behavior, sometimes tics, behavioral issues, weird or odd movements of the head or the eyes, side glancing, or different manifestations that usually come about after an infection, sometimes a sore throat. It can be a marked change in their behavior, social anxiety, anxiety in general and as mentioned before very, very severe forms of obsessive compulsive disorder.

Now there are certain individuals on the Autism spectrum who have this characteristic and there are also other people who develop obsessive compulsive behavior and tics etc, who also have PANDAS but are not Autistic. One of the things that is interesting is in many of the supplements that people take, specifically probiotics, there is a specific bacteria called streptococcus thermophilus that is a natural bacteria and is essentially listed as a beneficial bacterial for the digestive system and for our overall health. You also find it in some yogurt products as well. It’s reported that streptococcus thermophilus is entirely different than Group A Beta Hemolytic Strep as far as its protein structure and therefore should not be a contributing problem to the obsessive compulsive problems or the other manifestation of PANDAS. The problem is that has not always proved to be true. This basically means in many kids, whether they are on the Autism spectrum or not, just don’t seem to react very well to probiotics that have streptococcus thermophilus.

If you have a suspicion that your child has PANDAS or is likely a problem, check their probiotics. See if the probiotics that they are taking have streptococcus thermophilus. If it does, consider changing to a different probiotic. It doesn’t always fit, but often times it does.

I had a situation a couple of years ago where a patient who had PANDAS was successfully treated for it and was essentially in remission started a group of new supplements, and all of a sudden, started coming down with those PANDAS conditions again. Anxiety, tics, obsessive behavior. The parent didn’t realize that the streptococcus thermophilus was an issue until we recognized that that was likely a contributing factor. Just stopping that one supplement alone, his PANDAS symptoms, his OCD, his anxiety disappeared. I have seen that happen now with other kids and other people as well. So it is one of the things that I look at clinically is if streptococcus thermophilus is being used in a supplement, that is one thing I look to remove.

PANDAS

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Autism Treatment – Thyroid Evaluation and Autism

Posted on 08 January 2012 by admin

Thyroid Evaluation and Autism

The thyroid gland is an important gland in our body with respects to metabolism. It really helps with energy production throughout the body. Whether it’s our immune system, our cardiovascular system including our heart, or our lungs, bones, gut, or brain, without good thyroid output, we tend to run deficits in energy production. In many kids on the Autism spectrum, we know that there are underlying medical problems which contribute to many of their issues. We know that research points to the fact that there are methylation chemistry problems which can affect attention and focusing, we know there are mitochondrial imbalances with can influence negatively metabolism throughout the body and energy production as well. We know that there can be immune system imbalances, digestive problems, and more.

One of the things that doesn’t get a lot of attention is thyroid imbalances. The thyroid is often either not assessed or under assessed with respect to Autism. In patients with various mental health problems, like depression or bipolar disorder, many times thyroid dysfunction is a contributing factor and often optimizing thyroid function helps to really improve the overall mental and physical health status of patients. It’s important to be aware of the importance of thyroid function in Autism as something to assess for your child’s overall health.

If you are doing a blood chemistry test or any type of blood testing for your child, make sure that your doctor includes a thyroid panel. Specifically, look at TSH, or thyroid stimulating hormone, free T4, and free T3. These are important because the free fraction of those hormones, specifically free T3, is what is acting physiologically at the cellular level. You can also add what is called a reverse T3. If the body is producing a lot of reverse T3, it will actually inhibit thyroid function as well, and that can often go undiagnosed.

As an Autism Specialist, I like to see the free T4 and free T3 in the upper 2/3rds of normal in its reference range. If they are low, I recommend using a natural thyroid such as Westhroid or Armour Thyroid to try and replenish thyroid function. That is not something necessarily we do forever, but sometimes 6 months to a year just to see if we can re-establish thyroid function. Often times, it helps with energy, brain function, cognitive function and even growth.

So again, the thyroid is something important to assess and I recommend that any parent who is having their child be assessed by a physician with respects to blood work make sure you include a thyroid panel, free T4 and free T3. A couple other things that you could add to that panel to rule out that an auto-immune process may be occurring is something called anti-TPO and an anti-thyroid globulin antibodies. If there are antibodies being produced to the thyroid gland, then that indicates that there is some type of auto-immune process that is likely affecting the thyroid adversely. Including these elements would be a complete thyroid panel. But minimally the TSH, free T3 and free T4 are critically important to look at.

Thyroid

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Autism Treatment – Autism Research and Brain Inflammation

Posted on 08 January 2012 by admin

Microglia Activation–Brain Inflammation and Autism

Brain Inflammation, or neroulogical inflammation, with respects to Autism, has been the topic of a tremendous amount of research out of Johns Hopkins University and other research facilities. Emerging research shows that in Autism, there tends to be a higher prevalence of neuro-inflammatory markers likely affecting individuals on the Autism spectrum more adversely.

In short, there is a cell in the brain or a system in the brain called microglia. Microglia is a part of the immune system function of the brain and the central nervous system. In many individuals with Autism, there appears to be what’s called microglia activation where the microglia become activated, but don’t turn off. They can become activated from a virus or bacteria. They can become activated from a potential chemical reaction. There’s been some cases where it’s shown that certain vaccines may be a contributing factor to microglia activation.

When the system doesn’t turn off, it leads to chronic inflammation and essentially the destruction of what are called synapses. Synapses are the small spaces between nerve cells where neuro-chemicals are transferred from one nerve cell to the next as a communication link. So, we get a chemical reaction across the synapse creating an electrical chemical reaction in the corresponding nerve cell. So, anything that is going to affect the synapse will essentially affect chemical transportation from one brain region to the next and electrical impulse activation in the brain as well.

There isn’t just one thing that causes microglia activation, but it is something that should be on your radar. It is something to consider for your child on the Autism spectrum, something that may be a contributing factor to their overall condition. Whether you feel your child had a vaccine reaction, whether they had an infection at some point where things just never returned to normal, or they’ve had chronic immune problems throughout their life like food sensitivities, gut problems, etc, you could be looking at the potential for microglia activation.

microglia activation

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