While pregnant with my son, I freaked out about autism. The statistics are scary: 1 in 88 children are diagnosed with the disorder; the cause is unknown. I couldn’t even sign the consent for his MMR vaccine (my husband had to). Turns out, it was already too late to worry.
A recent article in the NY Times suggests an immune disorder is to blame for at least 1/3 cases of autism, and it’s present before birth. Studies have shown suffering an infection while pregnant increases the baby’s risk of developing autism. But this article attests it’s not the illness itself that increases the risk, but rather the mother’s susceptibility to it (her own auto-immune deficiency) that is the true cause of her offspring’s autism: “Gene variants associated with autoimmune disease — genes of the immune system — also increase the risk of autism, especially when they occur in the mother.” Some diseases, such as celiac disease in the mother, increase her child’s risk of autism 350%! Even a mother’s diagnosis of allergies during pregnancy can have an impact on the odds of her children developing autism.
The solution? Parasites! People living in conditions full of microbes and parasites (such as in developing nations), don’t suffer from inflammatory diseases as often as their Western counterparts, and therefore, have lower incidences of autism. “Humans also evolved with plenty of parasites. Dr. Parker and many others think that we’re biologically dependent on the immune suppression provided by these hangers-on and that their removal has left us prone to inflammation.” Therefore, return parasites to our systems and we could decrease the prevalence of autism. ”For people, a drug that’s safe for use during pregnancy may help. A probiotic, many of which have anti-inflammatory properties, may also be of benefit.” Wow, this could be the first preventative option for controlling autism!
The article explains, “Preventive medicine will need, by strange necessity, to emulate the patterns from deep in our past.” See the full article here.
Also, just a few days earlier, another NYTimes article pointed at paternal age as a risk factor for autism. Not sure how the two are linked, but both articles argue that autism is determined before birth, not because of environmental factors during infancy, such as vaccines.