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Autism, Medicine, and Media

Now that 2010 has rolled in, there seems to be more autism-related research published that’s getting some attention in the news.  When the previously embargoed autism rates were announced on the Friday afternoon before Christmas, it didn’t receive much notice in the media, aside from catching the statement that officials were still puzzled about whether there is a true increase in children with autism.

Autism advocacy organizations, such as the Autism Society of America, are calling the two reports published in Pediatrics “significant” and ‘confirming’ what families have been saying to doctors for years:  some children have gut issues that cause pain and affect behavior commonly associated with autism.  Yet, what I saw were more headlines about how this study confirmed that special diets for children with autism don’t work.  That is not what this study actually said.

Some in the autism community criticize that no one on the panel from which the two new studies emerged has actually published on bowel disease in children with autism.  Researchers such as the ones listed below were not included:

Balzola F, Daniela C, Repici A, Barbon A, Sapino A, Barbera C, Calvo PL, Gandione M, Rigardetto R, Rizzetto M. Autistic enterocolitis: confirmation of a new inflammatory bowel disease in an Italian cohort of patients. Gastroenterology 2005:128 (Suppl. 2);A-303

Balzola F et al.  Autistic Enterocolitis in childhood: the early evidence of the later Crohn’s disease in autistic adulthood? Gastroenterology 2007;132:suppl 2, A 660.

Gonzalez L, Lopez K, Martınez M etal. Endoscopic and histological characteristics of the digestive mucosa in autistic children with gastrointestinal symptoms. Arch. Venezolanos Puericultura Y  Pediatria 2006;69;19–25

Furlano R, Anthony A, Day R, Brown A, McGavery, Thomson M, et al. Quantitative immunohistochemistry shows colonic epithelial pathology and gd-T cell infiltration in autistic enterocolitis. J Pediatrics 2001;138:366-372

Torrente F, Machado N, Ashwood P, et al. Enteropathy with T cell infiltration and epithelial IgG deposition in autism. Molecular Psychiatry. 2002;7:375-382

Torrente F., Anthony A., Herushkel RB., M Thomson., Ashwood P., Murch SH. Focal-enhanced gastritis in regressive autism with features distinct from Crohn’s and helicobacter pylori gastritis. Am. J. Gastroenterol. 2004;598-605

Ashwood P, Murch SH, Anthony A, Pellicer AA, Torrente F, Thomson M, Walker-Smith JA, Wakefield AJ. Intestinal lymphocyte populations in children with regressive autism: Evidence for extensive mucosal immunopathology. J.Clin. Immunol. 2003;23:504-517

Ashwood P, Murch SH, Anthony A, Hayes C, Machado MP, Torrente F, Thomson MA, Heuschkel R, Wakefield AJ, Mucosal and peripheral blood lymphocyte cytokine profiles in children with regressive autism and gastrointestinal symptoms: Mucosal immune activation and reduced counter regulatory interleukin-10. Neuroimmunology. 2006;173;126–134

Krigsman A, Boris M, Goldblatt A, Stott C. Clinical Presentation and Histologic Findings at Ileocolonoscopy in Children with Autistic Spectrum Disorder and Chronic Gastrointestinal Symptoms. Autism Insights. 2009:1 1–11

Horvath K and Perman JA, Autistic disorder and gastrointestinal disease, Current Opinion in Pediatrics 2002;14:583–587.

Melmed RD, Schneider C, Fabes RA, et al.: Metabolic markers and gastrointestinal symptoms in children with autism and related disorders. J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr 2000;31:S31–S32

[1]Horvath K, Papadimitriou JC, Rabsztyn A, Drachenberg C, Tildon JT. Gastrointestinal abnormalities in children with autistic disorder, J Pediatr. 1999;135:559-63.

[1]Sandler RH., Finegold SM., Bolte ER., Buchanan CP., Maxwell AP., Vaisansen M-L, Nelson MN, Wexler HM., Short-term benefit from oral vancomycin treatment of regressive-onset autism. J. Child  Neurol. 2000;15:429-435

Parracho H., Bingham MO., Gibson GR., McCartney AL.  Differences between the gut flora of children with autistic spectrum disorders and that of healthy children. Journal of  Medical Microbiology. 2005;54:987-991

Balzola F, Barbon V, Repici A et al. Panenteric IBD-like disease in a patient with regressive autism shown for the ïŹrst time by the wireless capsule enteroscopy: another piece in the jigsaw of this gut–brain syndrome?Am.J.Gastroenterol. 2005;100;979.

Krigsman A, Boris M, Goldblatt A, Stott C, Clinical Presentation and Histologic Findings at Ileocolonoscopy in Children with Autistic Spectrum Disorder and Chronic Gastrointestinal Symptoms. Autism Insights, 2010: 2  1-11.

It is difficult for me to understand why potentially important information for the families of the now 1 in 70 boys is virtually ignored by the press.  If they only highlight erroneously about how diets to treat autism don’t work, and come up against popular actresses, perhaps that guarantees ratings or views.  I don’t know.

What I also wonder is where was this information when my three boys were vomiting every day?  Why has the medical community taken this long to assume autism is behavioral, mental, but not physical?  Bandages have been blindly handed out when wounds can be healed.

Who has the disorder in communication?  The medical establishment continues to be protected from embarrassment.  The media continues to grab for advertising dollars while appearing irresponsible in light of this huge health crisis.  Children continue to suffer.  Meanwhile, our national “grass roots” autism advocacy is unfortunately getting thicker.

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  2. bensmyson says:

    Thank you, thank you for the studies posted. Filed them away.

    I too wonder why so much of the truth about autism is being hidden away from the public. If it were found that 1 in 100 kids went deaf or blind you\’d think Obama would be holding daily press conferences about it.

    Maybe the Mayans were right, maybe the world does end in 2012.

  3. Kristine L. says:

    Who has the disorder in communication?


    It continues to baffle me that those in the medical establishment scratch their heads about autism and what might cause it or how to treat it, but they sure know what doesn\’t cause it and what doesn\’t work to treat it- with absolutely nothing to back that up. I\’m glad that you listed those studies because I was starting to think there were no scientists left- people who truly ask questions and search for answers. It\’s sad that the IACC is so corrupt they won\’t fund real research so we can \”combat\” autism.

  4. louiloui says:

    Thanks for posting the studies. They certainly are food for thought (could that be a pun?)
    As for the most recent publication — humbug! With all the constipation, vomiting and GERD at our house I could tell them a thing or three. Alert the media!.

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