Archive for May 5th, 2020

Notes on an Epidemic – Not COVID-19

Tuesday, May 5th, 2020

What is the best way for medical experts to get ahead of this modern pandemic? This very website, TheAutismDoctor.com, has provided my most fruitful research since opening The Child Development Center of America over a decade ago.

As in previous epidemics, such as ‘Cocaine Babies’ or ‘HIV Babies’, conventional medicine is slow to recognize, slower to study and, therefore, even slower to treat. So, how is a curious pediatric fellow with a particular interest in an emerging medical event supposed to learn how to help affected patients?

Modern allopathic medicine does not provide a Pediatric Residency or Fellowship to address functional and holistic medicine for any malady, let alone ASD. Psychiatric, neurologic and pediatric specialists consider their role in autism as diagnostic, not therapeutic.

Although medical journals have been the traditional method for accruing necessary information, the choice is no longer the obvious Pediatrics, Neurology, or even Child Development publications. Such ad-supported literature seems to underrecognize, underreport and mischaracterize the ever-increasing number of affected patients (see CDC graph). The current issue of PEDIATRICS features 13 new scientific articles. Two studies report about weaknesses in vaccinations programs, two cover the dangers of e-cigarettes, and no mention of ASD in the cover sheet. In Utero Antidepressants and Neurodevelopmental Outcomes in Kindergarteners and Rates and Stability of Mental Health Disorders in Children Born Very Preterm at 7 and 13 Years ARE about autism, but you wouldn’t necessarily recognize it from the title.
The conventional approach appears to be overly concerned about proving that alternative methods are useless at best, harmful at worst; and safety first – at all costs – when it comes to diagnosis and treatments for autism. Sidestepping the “A” word impedes the rise of important studies when Googling “research in autism spectrum disorder.”

Valuable information can be researched in peer-reviewed publications such as Autism Research, Molecular Autism, Autism, Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, Developmental Medicine & Child Neurology, plus the all-too-few papers that appear in trusted periodicals, such as The New England Journal of Medicine, or the Journal of The American Medical Association, for example. Google Scholar and National Center for Biotechnology Information, are reliable resources when seeking specific information about a specific topic.

Presently, The Medical Academy of Pediatric Special Needs (MedMaps.org), whose goal is excellence through dissemination of scientific information and collegial interaction, represents both a useful starting point as well a valuable venue for the most seasoned practitioners from all over the world to learn and discuss our unique problems and practices. Our canceled semiannual March meeting was another notch in Coronavirus’ take-no-prisoners belt.

In the meantime, an offshoot, highly non-official group has coalesced. Our small band of pediatric specialists has dubbed ourselves as the ‘Havana Group’, because of our initial conversations at a similarly named restaurant in Costa Mesa, CA (remember the days when we met at restaurants?). New problems continue to arise, and complicated medical issues are discussed via video chats. So far, viri (of any type) have not interfered with our monthly meetings.

Experience being the best teacher, our families’ journeys and the children’s response to various protocols have become the most valuable resource for outcome success. Professional Fellowship enables members to gain knowledge exponentially, especially given the ever-increasing number of patients. In the face of sparse useful scientific research, many practitioners have developed our own database as another valuable tool to track progress.

Discussion
The Corona Virus Epidemic has forced everyone into a state of profound reflection and redirection. Certainly, parents who are at home have become de facto school administrators, nurses, teachers, and therapists, in additional to all the other parental and (hopefully) work duties.

This near-apocalyptic viral event has prompted a renewed journalistic inclination to spread the word about another medical catastrophe. COVID-19 represents complex, serious and vexing medical problem. However, it appears a great deal more solvable – with a lot more resources – than the epidemic that is affecting nearly 2 percent of our children.

Conclusion
Preparing stories for TheAutismDoctor.com, has proven an invaluable tool by forcing an organized approach to the successful treatment of a disparate but somehow related variety of signs and symptoms presently classified as ‘Autism’. Quarantine has afforded my practice the increased time to read and write about the most important childhood epidemic of the 21st century.

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Brian D. Udell MD
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