Posts Tagged ‘food allergy’

Fundraising for Autism Research

Monday, October 23rd, 2017

(Too) many years ago, our Regional Intensive Care Unit had the honor of hosting Audrey Hepburn. At that time, we were knee-deep in cocaine exposed babies, and the entourage stopped at the incubator of a 1 pound infant who was barely visible among the wires and tubes.

I asked the famous actress, 1992 recipient of The Presidential Medal of Freedom, and tireless worker for UNICEF, if she minded that the costs of this single child’s care were expected to exceed $1 million. “Wouldn’t you be able to feed an entire village somewhere?” Her surprising answer was, “There’s enough money for both, if we care to spend it that way.”

Fast forward to a recent NYC fundraiser for Columbia Presbyterian’s Transplant Initiative. I complained to my beautiful and patient wife, Jackie, that autism doesn’t receive the same kind of attention as other medical condtions. Frankly, I was jealous. There is enough money for both, if we choose to spend it that way.

There are presently ~117,000 people requiring an organ transplant of some type. There are over 5 million people with autism. In the past several years, I have attended, and been struck by, similar begrudging feelings at benefits for the Michael J Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Disease. Sure, it’s important to give people a ‘second chance’ at life. But, have the children who are most affected with ASD, and their families, had any real first opportunity at normalcy?

Look, I’m not trying to compare apples to oranges, but it seems that ASD should be appropriately considered as THE childhood epidemic of OUR time. A great deal more is needed by way of funding for useful investigations. I am honored to serve as a Board Member in our local Autism Society of America – Broward County, but research and medical issues are for other institutions.

Increased collaboration among national organizations, including Autism Speaks, Generation Rescue, Talk About Curing Autism Now, Autism Research Institute, The National Autism Association, and local CARD groups, can only strengthen awareness and support.

Autism is stuck in a century-old paradigm of psychological causation. Lately, parents are offered a genetic etiology that leaves them with little hope. Disparate theories and alternate interventions require evidence-based research. That includes adequate vaccine studies – among other ubiquitous toxins – to identify those infants at possible increased risk for untoward consequences.

Acknowledgement of the successes that doctors, such as myself, are experiencing every day, needs to be appropriately studied and documented. It seems that more funding might be directed toward our work, were it not for all of the controversies surrounding an autism label. Unity among the various interested parties to support ‘N of One‘ treatments may help us attain that goal. That way, more toddlers would have access to earlier medical interventions, as well as conventional therapy.

Columbia’s Transplant organization’s motto is “We don’t just practice medicine. We change it.” Practitioners who are at the forefront of effective autism diagnosis and treatment feel that way, as well.

Thanks, Moms, for Your Special Attention

Sunday, May 14th, 2017

There are some great fathers out there, to be sure. Dads, don’t get me wrong, I’ll give you guys your due in June. I’m not judging and I have no idea how I might have done with such a challenging journey as raising an autistic child. I am simply reporting my observation that, by far, the majority of amazing caretakers out there are the mothers.

Dr. Martha Herbert has often begun her scientific presentations with a story about a friend whose adult child awoke from anesthesia and spent hours speaking normally with her mom. The daughter knew how difficult of a child she was and how much hard work her mother had done to get her to this point. After falling back to sleep and re-awakening, the daughter again exhibited her autistic personality. Dr. Herbert uses this example (plus more genuine scientific evidence) to teach that there seems to be a reversibility to ASD, and we have yet to even look at the problem in the right manner (as a whole body disorder). Her message is for moms to keep trying, as will SHE, until there is an answer.

Jenny McCarthy’s “mother warrior” credo has helped recover many children, I am certain of that. Her message has been that the general public cannot necessarily trust conventional medical thinking about the diagnosis, etiology, treatment, and prognosis for this epidemic. You can’t blame her for seeking answers for her son and all of the other children with autism.

So, in many of my posts, I write about planning, medication, special diets, supplements, and therapies. For the moms out there, that’s preaching to the choir. I’m only enumerating such chores as I detail the work that every ASD patient requires. I have learned most of my art – about toilet training, time management, addressing stims, GF/CF, cluster classes, IEPs, sensory conditioning and much much, more – from the insightful and relentless mothers who are determined to help their child recover.

Thank you. Thank you all for letting me examine and help care for your children. It has been one of the best experiences that I have ever had in my professional life.

The only piece of advice that I’ll offer in this post is this, take some time out for yourself and your spouse. I said “some”, ’cause I know that it is sometimes impossible. But, it needs to be more than “none”. The number of intact families in this practice is even lower than the national average.

At this time of year, mothers seek advice about how to continue administering their children’s pharmaceutical protocol, in camp or on vacation. The diet, vitamins, and medications that require prescriptions – all in order to get on a plane. Then, there is the plane! I’m not quite sure how families are able to get anywhere with all of the work that is required.

Mothers are special. Mother’s Day is certainly a deserved holiday.
Moms of Autistic Kids?
Lucky children.

Speech Apraxia and Autism Misbehavior

Sunday, May 7th, 2017

This week (May ’17), Penn State researchers claimed to have disproven a generally-accepted premise with an article is entitled, Tantrums are Not Associated with Speech or Language Deficits in Preschool Children with Autism.

The Study
The authors retrieved information from a previous data collection, which was not intended for this purpose, and reviewed 240 cases. Children, who were 15 to 71 months old, “… whose mental age was sufficient for verbal communication but who lacked speech did not have more tantrums than children with adequate speech. In fact, children with an expressive language age at or above 24 months had more tantrums than children whose speech skills were below 24 months.

Their conclusion is the exact opposite of what we all suspect. “Our findings and those of others do not support the belief that preschool children with autism have tantrums because they cannot speak or because their speech is difficult to understand.”

In autism, THE toughest sign to successfully ameliorate is a patient’s inability to produce spoken language. Indeed, professionals who have chosen this undertaking will attest to significant challenges. Proven medical protocols are few, though anecdotal ones abound.

The second most difficult expression of ASD is immature conduct, including tantrums. Behavioral intervention is the proven successful treatment. Conventional medical protocols invoke potent pharmaceuticals with significant side effects and variable results, so alternative strategies have emerged.

For years, parents and professionals, alike, have accepted a direct relationship between these two disturbing symptoms. There appears to be general agreement that, as children get older and smarter, they are increasingly frustrated by their failure to adequately communicate. There is a 30-year body of literature that supports this position.

Why were the findings of this paper
so counterintuitive?

This perspective is supported by substantial research, as well. The authors argue, “The reason may in part be because of the effectiveness of interventions… which use behavioral techniques to teach children to use words, and not inappropriate behaviors, to communicate.”

In other words, if language improves through successful therapy, a child may still have tantrums if that issue is not addressed, per se, as well. Those patients who do not get adequate socialization skills continue to resort to outbursts, in order to get needs met.

The publication lacks several key elements. ‘Tantrum’ is used as an outcome measure, begging the question of whether more serious issues, such as self-injury or aggression, were considered in the definition. Medication usage was not documented. Perhaps, patients who were most disruptive received more drugs without relief or even negative side effects? Additional medical issues were, likewise, omitted from the data. In the diverse ASD population, this could be a highly significant variable.

The outcome of this paper could have been that children who have better language skills are more likely to have tantrums! The authors were careful to leave that out. Plus, the closing sentence includes, “Our findings do not diminish the importance of evidence-based interventions…”

If, as the paper asserts, the reason for fewer tantrums was an individual’s type of intervention, then the conclusion seems to be that Functional Communication Therapy is useful for tantrums due to autism.

Or, one might deduce that each individual diagnosed with ASD is so different in their physical and mental state, that there is no certainty, at this time, to explain why this group showed a null relationship.

Is it true? Could tantrums, “… in large part be intrinsic to autism and not driven by developmental processes, such as language.” Is it important? Why? Perhaps, such insight could provide a more effective and efficient window of treatment options. Furthermore, there is general agreement that traditional measures can play an important role in remediation.

Autism vs. Insurance

Sunday, November 13th, 2016

insurance4If insurance is a wager to cover the expenses incurred due to some rare, catastrophic event, then health insurance is only a distant cousin. It’s betting how much you will owe hospitals and doctors when you are un-well. For people who will never get sick or injured, medical coverage is unnecessary.

However, for an increasing number of modern families, an autism diagnosis will become a reality. The lifetime costs range from ~$1.5M – $2.5M, or more. Actuaries know this, of course. Presently, and for the foreseeable future, to the extent that is ‘allowed’, coverage will be significantly limited for medical conditions that fall under the ASD banner. It’s the insurance business.

How Not to Cover an Autism Claim
An underlying principle is that, the longer it takes to pay, the more interest is generated on a company’s reserve dollars. Any excuse to deny, therefore, can improve profitability.

Since coverage is provided based on the type of diagnosis, the more specific and verifiable, the less likely likelihood of a disagreement about expected costs. Autism is neither a precise entity, nor can it be confirmed with scientific instruments.

Even the usual and customary therapies, such as ABA, OT, PT, and Speech&Language are disputed. Insurance plans have gone kicking and screaming into paying for those proven services. Plus, the practitioner must possess the credentials that are acceptable to the payor. Barriers are erected at each step along the way.

Getting reimbursed for a proper workup can be difficult. An MRI or EEG may be customary, but not a genetic test or food allergy panel. Successful patient outcomes are not as convincing as university research. Funding for a study on dietary effects on behavior based on laboratory evidence carries little profit motive.

For ASD, the primary on-label medications are very potent and potentially harmful. Due to formulary limitations based on cost, practitioners are even instructed to prescribe a more dangerous drug over others that might be better tolerated. More effective and less expensive supplements are not even considered.

The Folate Example
For over a decade, variations in the genes that propel an important metabolic pathway have been tied to problems in patients with autism. That has not deterred insurers from denying reimbursement to the accepted testing laboratories – and increasing charges for out-of-pocket expense.

Utilizing a relatively inexpensive supplement, a recent study has demonstrated, “…treatment with high-dose folinic acid for 12 weeks resulted in improvement in verbal communication as compared with placebo…”

Not surprisingly, insurance companies refuse to pay for this medicine, either.

Families of patients with ASD already know that they must pay out of pocket for many of the treatments. If they work great, it’s worth it.

As new insurance products take shape, it may be a good opportunity to lobby nascent companies for improved coverage of all autism treatments that show validity. Showing a cost savings matters more to companies that intend to stick with an insured.

Measuring markers of autism, such as folic acid metabolites, for diagnosis and results of treatment, will go a long way toward discovering – and getting reimbursed for – newer interventions.

The role of prevention cannot be overemphasized. Our external and internal environments must be scrutinized. More appropriate standards created and implemented for safe food, air, and water, should reduce the cost of all health insurance.

Medical Academy of Pediatric Special Needs – Fall 2016

Sunday, September 11th, 2016

This week, the Medical Academy of Pediatric Special Needs held its semiannual conference in downtown Atlanta, GA. This is ‘Ground 0’ for practitioners, researchers and professors from all over the world to meet, learn, explore and discuss a myriad of relevant topics.

Members who have been returning for 100’s of lecture hours generally choose the advanced courses. For some, the conference has become a group of ~50 experienced and knowledgeable practitioners who meet to discuss ‘workups’, basic science, relevant research and treatment protocols for those who are most affected with ASD.

Notes and Observations
Day 1 – Tough Cases
I really enjoyed our lectures by the plain-speaking Dr. John Green, of Portland, OR. Dr. Green not only reviewed those who improved because of his medical expertise, but those who got better in spite of him, those who haven’t gotten better, those who got better but he can’t figure out why, and the most frustrating – patients who improve only to suffer frequent relapses.

Dr. Sid Baker, a pioneer of the biomedical movement, described his early medical experiences in Africa that morphed into his lifelong dedication to treating patients with ASD. He expressed his disappointment that so many conventional colleagues disagree with our practice.

Dr. Baker elucidated how he initiates care with new patients. He discussed increasingly resistant cases, covering topics from severe speech apraxia to the approach to children with injurious behaviors.

The first day was filled with the most frustrating and difficult cases you can imagine. Eminent practitioners Drs. James Neuenshwander, Michael Elice, and Julie Buckley challenged our diagnostic and therapeutic knowledge, attempting to navigate the complicated courses of those who improved and those who didn’t.

Day 2
Dr. Daniel Amen‘s morning lecture was entitled “3D Brain SPECT Imaging”. The takeaway message was that SPECT scans – technology – could/should/will become a mainstay for a multitude of CNS disorders. His manner and stories of research, technical evaluation, and clinical practice, were positively spellbinding and inspirational.

Dr. Theoharides presented his research and extensive knowledge about the important role of allergy in ASD. Dr. Theo continues to publish a mountain of monumental works, not only on the topics of autism and the role of mast cells, but treatments, as well.

Toxins were the subject of the afternoon’s lectures. We learned about the identification of substances in the environment that are dangerous, how they are measured, how damage is done, and the means to control and treat. For the skeptical reader, there was a plethora of supporting scientific evidence of the relationships to autism (and many other modern conditions).

As has become customary, Dr. Dan Rossignol rounded up the day with a roundup of all of the latest scientific research. Rapidly.

Day 3 – Advanced Clinical Cases
Severe behaviors and speech apraxia. For patients who are most resistant to conventional and alternative treatments, essential oils, acupuncture, and even worms were explored as possible solutions.

Throughout the afternoon, cases got even tougher! Lyme, Persistent Lyme, Non-Lyme Lyme, PANDAS, PANS, parasites… an increasing number of reasons to have signs and symptoms that are called autism. Such information extends our knowledge and leads to better diagnoses for our patients, and possibilities for treatment.

Dr. Green discussed biomarkers. Though these ‘labs’ are not specific to ASD, per se, this will become a necessary next step to document level of involvement and response to treatments.

A brand new treatment, repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation was presented by Dr. Arun Mukherjee. The jury is still out on this expensive intervention.

One important reason that I return to this meeting, is simply that I feel at home among like-thinking practitioners. Members don’t agree on every subject, but we are respectful and actually enjoy our practices.

In traditional medicine, conferences are basically show-and-tell affairs, where researchers report their data, previously published in medical journals. When doctors think outside the box, practitioners with diverse skills, who are scattered over the globe, discover improved results by networking in this fashion.

Patients, parents, and families can feel confident that progress is being made (slowly), as serious, dedicated doctors continue to try to unravel this modern mystery.

Finally, I am proud to report that, at this meeting, I was awarded Fellowship status in the Medical Academy of Pediatric Special Needs.

July 4th with Developmentally Challenged Children

Friday, July 1st, 2016

July4While the rest of the country eagerly awaits an exciting and fun-filled day, there are some families who will wonder how to get through the celebration. Here are the top 10 reasons why this can be so challenging.

July4 littleThe trip to see the fireworks may present the first hurdle. The closer the venue is to home, the better. There will be less echolalia, as in “Get there?Get there?” And, if you need to return early, it’s a shorter journey.

July4 little otherProblems at The Beach, The Lake, The Mountain, etc. Dangers abound. Children with sensory issues do not necessarily perceive the experience as pleasurable; and families may be hard pressed to convince a reluctant child otherwise.

July4 littleSleep. Even if you can somehow avoid the hoopla, the neighborhood is awash in sights and sounds that can keep everybody going well into the night.

July4 little otherDangerous smoke bombs, sparklers, and other explosive devices. Parents need to remain constantly vigilant, lest their affected child jumps in to join in the ‘fun’.

July4 littleCrowds. Relatives, friends, neighbors, and strangers are present in sometimes overwhelming numbers. Then, there are pets, clowns, and other terrifying distractions.

July4 little otherParades. Waiting in line and jockeying to improve visibility of revelry that the children may not understand – or even look at – sometimes seems pointless and counterproductive.

July4 littleThe heat, mosquitoes, and outdoor environment can create more than the expected amount of whining, complaints, and rashes.

July4 little otherOff schedule activities. Often, children get used to any type of routine – even in the summertime. This becomes another day to explain why “We can’t do… this or that.”

July4 littleThe food. Many parents have to choose between enforcing a restricted diet, or letting a child ‘cheat’, perhaps leading to aggressive behaviors in the ensuing hours and days.

July4 little otherThe Fireworks! Really loud noises and flashing lights that may terrify even neurotypical youngsters. Not fun for all.

Our national holiday is supposed to be a joyous family affair, and is often remembered fondly. Parents hope to pass the experience on to the next generation. In certain circumstances, the atypical child presents novel tribulations – including more than a few that couldn’t have even been imagined.

Preventing School Illness in Autistic Children

Sunday, August 25th, 2013

The cooties are coming! The cooties are coming! Children who are ‘on the Spectrum’ are less likely to notice and / or complain about aches and pains, and are certainly less capable of expressing such discomfort. So, here are some tips about how to help your special kids, and prevent that ‘sick all year’ experience.

Many of the children have not been fully (or, for some, ever) vaccinated. That means that parents should be extra careful about sending ‘possibly’ sick kids to school, or even sending the children when there are other students or teachers who are sick. Yes, this is a big inconvenience, but it is the price to pay for the lack of immunity.

While ASD children are on the road to improvement, I am not a fan of influenza vaccinations. The shots produce 100% chance of extra inflammation, but only reduce, rather than prevent, the chance of getting disease. Therefore, it is prudent to make sure that the rest of the family – parents, grandparents, and healthy siblings – gets vaccinated, in order to decrease the chance that they may catch the flu and pass it on to a special-needs child.

ASD patients are usually finicky eaters, and many suffer from gastrointestinal problems. Many of our patients have been found to have very low levels of nutrients and vitamins that are important in handling inflammation and reducing the severity or length of an infection. Accordingly, make sure that multivitamins are included in the diet in order to optimize nutrition.

Many patients have significant food allergies that cause inflammation and interfere with neurologic improvement. Parents need to stay the course and resist the temptation to let the child eat junk foods or the usual fare that gets served at school. Older children are prone to cheat, lie and steal the foods that they should not ingest. Our office provides notes to teachers and administrators requesting their support to achieve the goal of optimizing outcome in special-needs children.

It is not unusual for ASD children to drink fewer liquids and become dehydrated. Their ability to flush bacteria and viruses is therefore, less and could result in more infections, or a decreased ability to clear any illness. Make sure that they have plenty to drink while at school, and ask the teachers to encourage this simple task.

The importance of a good night’s sleep cannot be overstated. It has been demonstrated that ASD patients are less likely to have enough hours of sleep, and especially REM sleep, which is the time when the memories of the previous day are supposedly solidified in the CNS. Therefore, we recommend the use of warm nighttime baths (epson salts are fine, also), melatonin and other natural supplements in order to optimize the benefits of this activity. Waking up refreshed and happy is sure to help anyone have better focus, attitude and attention for the rest of the day.

Check the backpack and other school supplies and clean them thoroughly. Also, if the school is not providing hand sanitizers, families can help by providing it for the classroom and asking the teachers to use it themselves and to demonstrate to the children. By visiting the classroom from time to time, parents may get a sense of where the cooties are most likely to hide, and to provide some suggestions for improved cleanliness.

Finally, make an effort to allow your children only to return to school when they have a normal temperature and are symptom-free. “Easier said than done,” you may claim, but re-infections and lingering illness will only prolong the suffering and decrease the number of productive school days.

Another Autism Theory

Sunday, August 4th, 2013

“There are no studies to support <<some specific>> autism causation or treatment” is an oft-repeated phrase by many pediatricians, psychiatrists and child neurologists.

My response is, “When your arm hurts, you don’t want the doctor to study it, you want it to feel better!” The professional’s examination, clinical impression and experience, will determine the patient’s outcome, not a research paper.

After 3-1/2 decades of treating high-risk pregnancies, infants and children, I have made various observations that have enabled me to identify infants at the earliest stages of non-typical behaviors and form theories about what has changed that might be contributing to the epidemic that we call ASD.

In the last decade of the previous century, studies indicated that placing infants on their back would decrease the incidence of SIDS. That sea change in infant care, while decreasing the overall incidence of a terrifying cause of infant death, has resulted in the genesis of other unexpected outcomes.

Plagiocephaly, “characterized by a flat spot on the back or one side of the head caused by remaining in the supine position for too long” is diagnosed more frequently now. Additionally, there is an epidemic of GERD, leading to the increased use of antacids and PPIs.

How do the bacteria that live in the gut respond to changing the acid-base level of stomach contents and what does that do to the stool pattern, digestion, and reabsorption of vitamins in the intestine? There are no studies to answer that question.

When infants experience reflux up the esophagus, some of the food, mucus and acid can get into the back of the throat and eventually end up in the internal ear canals, leading to infection, which is called otitis media. Such infants can have signs and symptoms of colic and behavioral disturbances such as painful screaming episodes or non-responsiveness to their concerned parents.

Children can be diagnosed with “formula intolerance,” requiring frequent changes. Affected infants are likely to show a poor suck or constant irritation because they are not satiated with normal amounts of food. These could be additional reasons for vitamin and mineral deficiencies.

Chronic ear infections are accompanied by the copious use (one could say, “overuse”) of antibiotics. Repeated infections mandate not only frequent antibiotic usage, but changes to stronger or multiple preparations. Frequently, “tubes” are required to prevent future infections, even in patients as young as one- or two-years old.

Often, the tonsils or adenoid lymph nodes are surgically removed “to improve drainage.” In the meantime, the affected children are generally sick and often miserable, and their parents are not able to provide satisfactory interactions for typical development.

The normal bacteria that are expected to populate the young G-I system will be altered by such an antibiotic diet, enabling pathogenic strains, fungus or perhaps viruses to take hold. There are no studies that address this phenomenon, or to elucidate what this might do to young infants and children living in an already toxic world.

Eight of the eleven children who first presented to Dr. Kanner in the 1930’s were described as having feeding difficulties. More than one-half of the young children who present to The Child Development Center have a clinical history that includes formula intolerance and other gastrointestinal signs and symptoms.

Although there isn’t research that specifically supports this topic, there is a lot of experience and evidence that, how we position infants to decrease the incidence of one outcome (SIDS) is not so simple or innocuous as once thought.

GERD and Autism

Sunday, May 26th, 2013

Gastro-esophageal reflux (GERD) is a disorder in which the stomach contents slosh back up into the esophagus (tube that goes from the mouth down to the stomach).

When GERD happens in newborns and infants, it may be diagnosed as ‘colic’, it may be ‘silent’, or there may be problems that persist beyond the first few months. There are often a great deal of ‘spit-ups’ that occur, especially after a child is placed in the recommended face-up position. A refluxing neuro-typical child may cough or otherwise note their distress by wiggling or turning. When children start to get thicker formulas or solid foods, their symptoms can diminish and eventually disappear.

When GERD affects a person who has decreased sensitivity to pain, it may present clinically as a behavioral disorder. Affected babies may not smile or pay attention. When the situation occurs in children who are extra-sensitive, the affected baby may cry ‘for no reason’ or scream in excruciating pain. Sleep may be affected. Socialization can become difficult. When liquid refluxes up into the ear canal, infection may ensue. Antibiotics are then certain to follow.

Dr. Arthur Krigsman, a respected gastroenterologist has noted the frequent association between gastric and other symptoms with a condition called eosinophilic esophagitis, indicating inflammation in the area of question. Dr. Krigsman has written, “Reflux is a symptom, not a primary diagnosis—it occurs because something is not going right. If the intestines are unable to move food effectively from the mouth down to the anus, then it comes up as reflux. <<Low>>  motility in the gastrointestinal tract in ASD children is so common that almost all of those I have scoped have some degree of clinical (but not necessarily histologic) reflux.”

A common treatment for this set of signs and symptoms is the prescription medicine Prevacid. This drug is in the category known as proton pump inhibitors. The idea is, if you make less acid, that won’t cause the pain associated with reflux. That implies that it’s the acid that causes the symptoms. Research notwithstanding; heartburn relief is certainly a clinical reality, given the number of GERD remedies that are sold each year. However, PPIs are supposed to address too much stomach acid, which is rarely if ever the formally diagnosed in adults, let alone children.

For pediatric relief, however, a respected multi-center group recently concluded, “This study detected no difference in efficacy between lansoprazole and placebo for symptoms attributed to GERD in infants age 1 to 12 months… lower respiratory tract infections, occurred more frequently with lansoprazole than with placebo.” Get that? Lower respiratory infections occurred MORE frequently with this PPI. Antibiotics are certain to follow, again.

What are we supposed to do about it? A 21st Century workup. The first step is to determine an accurate diagnosis before prescribing non-approved and potentially dangerous medicines. Testing whether antacids are effective is a good start. The diagnosis may be documented with a scope, an x-ray or a probe that checks pH. Then, there is testing for food allergy, which is real, at least in children. Avoidance of highly allergenic substances results in healthier bodies with improved core tone, normal gut flora and fewer aggressive behaviors.

For premature infants, we neonatologists often prescribed an old standby called bethanecol, which proved safe and effective. It’s a medicine that promotes increased tone for the muscles leading into the stomach, thus resulting in symptomatic improvement in a much more physiological manner – not by altering the acidity of the contents, but by preventing the occurrence of reflux. Also, probiotics appear to promote a healthier cycle and less G-I problems, from decreased reflux to improved nutrient absorption to relief of diarrhea or constipation.

Who said that it is OK to mess with the acid-base balance of the stomach, and the bacteria that live in our bodies and there won’t be increased and unknown risks to the patient? The bowel-brain connection has been established as an important entity in health for many years. A disruption of that system has created one of the groups of signs and symptoms that we presently call ASD.

There are many new toxins in the 21st Century, and PPIs for infant colic/reflux is one of those new protocols that has caught on without much documentation of long term safety, including checking for associations with ASD. Perhaps it is the GERD, or the colic of unknown cause, or PPIs, or the infant who has low core tone (including the muscles of the diaphragm and esophagus), but it seems that during an epidemic as ubiquitous and devastating as autism, this association is key to our understanding and ability to help.


Food for Thought about Autism

Friday, May 17th, 2013

The goal of biomedical treatment is to optimize health in order to minimize inflammation, prevent disruptive behaviors, enable normal development, and allow the traditional therapies to take hold. This is the story of one of our parents who became a believer after getting rid of the offending nutritional fare.

After our son was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, I spent about two weeks in a very dark place. As soon as I stopped feeling sorry for myself, I knew I needed to try to be as strong as I could so that I could help our son. About six weeks after our first visit with Dr. Udell, we received all of the test results for food sensitivities. My son had been a great eater (this is a story for another time) until we found out he was highly allergic to peanuts; then, after experiencing anaphylaxis at 17 months due to eggs, food became a MUCH bigger problem. He had pneumonia for the first time in February 2012, which was frightening. We were told that he suffered from Reactive Airways Disease and that he would be sick for quite a few years. I had such a difficult time just accepting this news, so I researched solutions. He was on a regimen of Singular, Xoponex, and Pulmicort in the nebulizer and, if it got severe enough, oral steroids. Our son was always ill. Sick so much that people did not believe us. This year, my son was on steroids (either oral or inhaled) from October until March, but he was still not better. One of the fill-in pediatricians proclaimed, “He is on too much medicine to be this sick!”

This past March, after our follow-up appointment for biomedical treatment, we started our son on a high dose probiotic and Diflucan. At that visit, we received a long list of items for our son not to eat. My husband and I decided to dive head first into this and get rid of his beloved bananas and Lorna Doones (cookies). I was skeptical about the food changes because any time you hear the word autism, GF /CF diets are soon to follow. I am not sure if the food, the probiotic or the Diflucan changed our son but something did and he has not had any more respiratory issues. I am not a Dr. but as we noticed our son changing with all of the new protocols, he became a healthy 3 and a half year old little boy. No steroids for 7 weeks and counting.

Back to my son’s food issues. He never got back to eating fish and chicken, as he did in his infancy. He eats a lot of pouches from Earth’s Best or Plum Organics. He drinks a smoothie in the morning but, since we had to change to rice milk, we provide Silk protein drink and soy yogurt. I went to my local health food stores (the big box ones are so expensive) and found Annie’s Gluten Free Bunnies, Crunch-master cinnamon sugar crackers, Enjoy Life sugar cookies and Home Free little sugar cookies. We had to bribe him with toys to get him to try new foods, but it worked. Now, we have a few items to take when we go out, so he can feel like a normal kid.

Quick tips for giant food changes. Talk to your local health food stores and see if they can order selected products for in-store purchase. Often, they will offer a discount if you order a case or more. Check out (it’s free) where you could get discounts on baby and kids items, make sure to sign up for their ‘subscriptions and save’ programs. The pouches from Plum Organics are $1.79 at Babies R Us and they are shipped to me for $12.46 per dozen, a savings of $9.02. The Enjoy Life cookies list for $4.69 a box, but through Amazon they are $2.84. Not everything is cheaper at Amazon, but with the expense of a GF/CF/egg/nut etc. diet, every little bit helps.

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Brian D. Udell MD
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