Medicine is in constant flux. Novel theories challenge the status quo and possible new treatments are discovered every day. In order to perform at the highest level, doctors, more than perhaps any other profession, must remain current about all the newest information in their specialty. That is why we read our weekly and monthly journals; if not in detail, certainly those articles pertaining to the most common or difficult diagnoses in our patients.
In a rapidly emerging epidemic such as autism, the most up-to-date information appears, and is discussed at, conferences such as The Medical Academy of Pediatric Special Needs (MAPS). The meeting is divided by levels of experience (Foundation of MAPS) and participant interest (Mood Disorders).
This is my account of the tract entitled “Immunology”.
Day #1 of the fall conference of MAPS
Dr. E. Mumper, reported on the basic science of the immune system as it encompasses the various presentations of autism and how things may have gone awry. Guess what the common thread was among her slides? Problems in the gut.
Dr. Cindy Schneider discussed causes and treatments for immune deficiency in autism. Key tests in the medical work-up were suggested, such as certain metals and vitamins. The importance of mitochondrial function and the immune response were highlighted. Much of this was discovered when I cared for HIV infected moms and babies in the 90’s. Guess what common thread is included in these treatments? A healthy diet.
Dr. Dan Rossignol gave one of his usual stellar lectures, which was a review of the literature about inflammation in autism. This led to his discussion about the various anti-inflammatory protocols that might help alleviate signs and symptoms.
The afternoon sessions began with several cases presented by the good doctors about patients who got better, and most importantly, about the patients who didn’t improve. It’s the latter group from whom I learn the most; what not to do, what might work, what doesn’t work, what to try next, etc.
Dr. Nancy O’Hara wrapped up the afternoon with a complete discussion about PANDAS, PANS and PITANDS. These autoimmune conditions all present with signs and symptoms similar to autism, suggesting comparable causes and treatment regimens in the more common forms of ASD.
Then, there was a test, checking our knowledge about the material.
However, this was followed by a yummy dinner, provided by a company willing to feed some of us to learn about their product.