Autism and Epigenetic Triggers
October 16, 2017
Hot off of the research bench!
In the Journal Nature last week, Dr. Sangdoo Kim and colleagues presented some basic science research that brings us a little closer to understanding the epigenetic triggers that give us children with autism spectrum disorders.
It has been well known in primates and rodents that when a mother's immune system is over activated, her offspring will have autism like behavioral features including, repetitive activity, delayed and abnormal communication and reduced sociability. What has been unknown to date is what are the factors involved in allowing this to occur.
In this elegant study, Dr. Kim has shown us that specific types of maternal intestinal bacteria promote an inflammatory response that leads to an autism like outcome for her offspring when the mother undergoes immune system activation that is the result of an infection or auto inflammatory disease.
Thus, we now know that commensal bacterial flora in an animal's intestine influences the immune system to abnormally respond to pathogenic infectious organisms leading to a cascade of events to the detriment of the offspring's neural development.
How do we translate this research to everyday action???
That answer is still hypothetical, however, we will give you our two cents.
We know that autism has been on the rise for decades paralleling many other disorders of inflammation from obesity to Alzheimers disease to coronary artery disease. We know that the human micro biome has been assaulted for decades from antibiotic overuse, American style flour and sugar based diets, antacid overuse, infant cow based formula feeding, mode of child birth and many other problems.
What this research allows us to do is link the causes of the abnormal human micro biome to the model in rodents as a picture of our own demise. If, as we believe, many mothers are developing dysfunctional microbial flora in their intestines from the known risk factors and they are thus at higher risk for diseases like infections and auto inflammation, then it would likely follow that a major reason for our autism epidemic is this gut micro biome immune over activation in mother's while pregnant.
What is still missing from this story is what are the exact microbes that raise our risk and how do we prevent their proliferation in our intestines? The specific answer will follow soon as this research evolves. However, based on epidemiological data to date, it is clear that we need to reverse all of the known risk factors for an abnormal micro biome which in turn gives us the best chance in modern America to reverse this tragic trend of Autism.
We are convinced that the maternal diet is the key to a successful outcome. What is also clear from this research is that yet again, vaccines are no where in sight of true scientific research with links to autism.
What can you do as a mother to be?
1) Avoid all antibiotics, antacids and non steroidal anti inflammatory drugs where possible before becoming pregnant and during pregnancy as well.
2) Eat a predominantly plant based whole foods diet like Dr. Weil's anti-inflammatory diet. This means shunning flour and sugary "white" foods.
3) Avoid non nutritive sweeteners like saccharin, aspartame and sucralose.
4) Avoid endocrine disrupting chemicals as seen on this list.
5) Consider taking probiotics with the advice of your provider.
6) Eat organic foods until we have definitive proof that Round Up/glyphosate and other chemicals in our foods are truly safe. The early research on these chemicals and the micro biome are not encouraging.
Pay attention to the research as it can change the outcome of your future,
Drs. Grey and Magryta