Archive for the ‘Vitamin B12’ Category

Seeking Real Autism Awareness

Saturday, April 1st, 2017

It’s the time of year for Spring walks, fundraisers, and other events to promote autism awareness. Heartwarming stories are featured in social and news media.

This is my wish list for true mindfulness of this 21st century childhood disorder.

A good start would be general acceptance that ASD is not ‘retardation’ dressed in modern nomenclature. Intellectual Disability is an even less precise diagnosis. And, most autistic people possess normal intelligence.

The public demonstrates increased understanding, and empathy, for families who experience this disability. There is no need to chastise the mom of a kid who is experiencing a meltdown at Walmart.

There should be general agreement that Hollywood’s interpretation of people with ASD is one-sided, at best.

We’ll know that we’re at the ‘next step’ when people stop asking, “Can you really get better from autism?” This is especially true for professionals.

Doctors need to buckle down, get their heads out of the sand, and take the time to learn about this condition. As the population ages, general practitioners, specialists, and sub-specialists will all need to understand how to care for such patients.

Research institutions recognize awareness by fulfilling their obligation to expand into every area of this epidemic. Professors willing to employ twenty-first century thinking can make a big difference.

Schools, already admittedly taxed by the demands of an evolving neuro-diverse student body, make a point of searching for improved means to address this growing population of our special needs population, as well.

Public servants can display their understanding by offering courses, services and information regarding appropriate response to citizens who react in an unfamiliar, or unexpected manner.

Choosing a career in one of the occupations that addresses the specific issues experienced by so many peers (or, even their own family) would be a worthy indication that young people are getting the message. Occupational, physical, speech, and behavioral skills are already valuable, sought-after professions.

From this doctor’s examining chair, real autism awareness is when my patients actually become aware. It is difficult to adequately express my satisfaction, and appreciation, when a mom writes about her kid who munched his first French fry, a toddler taking her first steps, or a child who says, “I love you.”

Getting the Most from Behavioral Therapies

Sunday, March 26th, 2017

The ever-increasing number of children who experience significant developmental problems requires a proportional addition of skilled professionals for assessment and intervention.

At The Child Development Center, we have noted the emergence of certain patterns of treatment choices. Intelligent, involved parents express their concern about the paucity of well-trained professionals, the cost of treatment, the lack of insurance, and frustration with the speed or course of their child’s progress.

Applied Behavioral Analysis
The general consensus is that the proven protocols of behavioral intervention are most likely to result in significant symptom reduction in patients with ASD. As reported in the 2001 publicationEducating Children with Autism, “teaching parents how to use pivotal response training as part of their applied behavioral analysis instruction resulted in happier parent-child interactions, more interest by the parents in the interaction, less stress, and a more positive communication style. The use of effective teaching methods for a child with autism can have a measurable positive impact on family stress. As a child’s behavior improves and his or her skills become more adaptive, families have a wider range of leisure options and more time for one another… To realize these gains, parents must continue to learn specialized skills enabling them to meet their child’s needs.”

Why does utilization of ABA lag behind other treatments
in so many regions around the country?

The prevalence of children with autism is outstripping the number of qualified, interested therapists. Economic pressures appear to dictate direct provision of services by paraprofessionals who are properly supervised. Therefore, the most efficient providers frequently observe, evaluate, and mentor the less-experienced staff. For-profit companies may find such practice difficult to maintain.

Insurance companies regularly find a way to weasel out of their commitments, many times in spite of outside mandates or even advertised benefits. Denial of payment for services may take the form of incorrect coding, credentialing, and timeliness of payment. Providers are, therefore, less likely to accept their (lack of) coverage.

There are a variety of types of behavioral intervention; including DTT, EIBI, PRT, VBI, DIR, TEACCH, OT, Sensory Integration Therapy, Speech Therapy, and PECS. Devotees of each claim superiority of their strategy. Such a smorgasbord may confuse even the most attentive parent.

Discussion
Recovery from the major challenges that accompany an autism diagnosis is an exhausting journey for the whole family. Traditional therapies are the proven tools to enable a successful transformation. They are an important consideration that must be offered to every patient. Parents should use their common sense, plus their unique understanding of the child, to assess whether the plan of action really applies. Does the suggested intervention make sense? Does the child ‘click’ with the therapist(s)?

When professionals continue to insist that 1) you are not doing the right thing at home or 2) your child can’t improve in some particular function, it’s imperative to seek additional assistance. Maybe the provider is correct, but little progress will occur if the parties continue to debate.

I often advise parents who are concerned about some ‘magic’ 25-40 hour ABA requirement, that a good OT, or PT, etc., has learned to be effective by utilizing a variety of techniques. Therefore, you can add up the various interventions, and will frequently find that you don’t need to feel guilty about that numeric stipulation.

As children improve, the challenges of proper socialization and self-control become the most difficult and lingering concern. This may require an entirely new and unique skill-set to come to the fore.

Conclusion
All interested professionals; including chiropractors, acupuncturists, alternative and traditional practitioners, can be important members of the village trying to get your child on the right track. Because the present state-of-the-art is in such flux, the correct combination of traditional and alternative protocols provides the best chance for a successful outcome.

A(nother) Laboratory Test(s) for Autism

Sunday, March 19th, 2017

A key piece of the autism puzzle appears to have been confirmed in an article published this week in the Public Library of Science Open Access Journal, Computational Biology. The title of the article is Classification and adaptive behavior prediction of children with autism spectrum disorder based upon multivariate data analysis of markers of oxidative stress and DNA methylation.

The news has already been reported in popular media as “A Blood Test for Autism“. Here is my clinical interpretation.

The Study
The data was collected from patients in previous studies, and included 83 children, aged 3-10 years, with ASD. Utilizing very dense, complicated statistics that were based on biochemical laboratory data, researchers identified neurotypical vs. autistic individuals, who already had the diagnosis, based on conventional developmental testing.

The chosen pathways evaluated abnormalities in methylation, an epigenetic function, and detoxification.

Specificity and sensitivity were very reliable, “96.1% of all neurotypical participants being correctly identified as such while still correctly identifying 97.6% of the ASD cohort.”

Discussion
Contrary to what the headlines proclaim, this is not a single test; it’s research material that is based on a number of not-yet-readily-available laboratory findings.

The biomarkers represent a final common pathway, not necessarily a cause. Although the data correlated with autism ‘scores’, it really wasn’t meant to discriminate for the various kinds of developmental challenges, such as those children who are mostly aggressive, immune, apraxic, or suffer gastrointestinal abnormalities.

Such an analysis begs the question, “Can it be used for prospective improvement – to follow course of the condition?”

Conclusion
The modern epidemic of childhood autism is extremely complicated and difficult to pin down for research purposes. This study renders a modern means to evaluate a myriad of variables. The metabolic pathways under scrutiny represent a confirmation of the roles of genes and toxins.

As with other ‘earliest diagnosis’ studies, this paper serves to solidify the concept that earlier diagnosis should lead to earlier interventions, with improved outcomes.

For those of us who are practicing ‘alternative’ medicine, it is comforting to rediscover that the treatments included in our modern arsenal of biomedical protocols are consistent with these findings.

Medical Academy of Pediatric Special Needs Spring 2017 Conference

Sunday, March 12th, 2017

At the conference with Yale prof Dr. Sid Baker – one of the originators of biomedical treatment

If practitioners wish to become more effective in the diagnosis and treatment of children who suffer developmental challenges, it will require a new paradigm. Therefore, attending conferences, such as the Simons Foundation for Autism Research, the Autism Research Institute, and the Medical Academy of Pediatric Special Needs, is essential to acquiring that knowledge.

This year’s advanced sessions introduced a completely new functional medicine topic – Hormones from Pregnancy to Teens. Dr. Cindy Schneider examined the differences between the brain anatomy, physiology, and chemistry that might explain how ASD affects males vs. females, and the consequences as we age. Additionally, there are the special complications incurred throughout puberty, with important implications regarding effective treatments.

Dr. Stephen Genuis‘ presentations, Hormone Disrupting Agents, provided a fascinating complement to that lecture. He highlighted the chronic nature of ASD, and the disrupting effects of toxic agents in our modern environment. A key component is the toxic load; if topical agents represent ounces, ingested compounds represent pounds, and the air that we breathe can be expressed in tons of potential poisonous compounds. And, it takes months or years to eliminate what takes days or weeks to ingest. He also pointed out that medical school curricula and training in toxicology is woefully inadequate.

Dr. Lynne Mielke rounded out the day by submitting actual case histories of young people with mysterious medical problems. Her background includes personal experience, extensive knowledge and patient care. This physician’s psychiatric/neurological point-of-view was especially insightful and provided valuable material that directly applied to the audience’s practice population.

Day 2
Another novel and exciting topic was Preconception Care: A New Standard of Care in Maternal-Fetal Medicine. Dr. Genuis discussed the increased risks of preterm birth, Caesarian section delivery, and chronic childhood illness, such as cancers, diabetes, autoimmune conditions, autism and  ADHD.
He presented the emerging research of toxicant exposures and nutritional deficiencies that continue to escalate. Metabolic disruptions may easily ensue, leading to many of the persistent disorders that are now experienced by an increasing number of children, although they may look perfectly normal at birth.

Such difficulties seem imminently preventable in the population, and there appears to be a lack of awareness in the majority of obstetricians. Even fathers who are exposed to toxic agents may become a vector for such later difficulties. Dr. Genuis then discussed the means to eliminate the myriad of  toxins – mostly by sweating, but some by other means, such as fasting or medication.

Dr. Elizabeth Mumper followed with an in-depth discussion about the lack of awareness of proper nutrition, environmental factors, the hazards of indiscriminate use of antibiotics, and poorly researched vaccinations, which appear to be significant factors leading to autism. She even offered another alternative schedule for high-risk infants and toddlers.

Nutritionist Robert Miller presented a very dense lecture, attempting to answer the complicated question, “What can be done about all of those new-fangled genetics tests?” Suffice it to say, that offering will take some time to digest.

Day 3
The lectures consisted of an assortment of the faculty’s most difficult cases. Experts included Drs. Baker, Frye, and Neuenschwander; and the audience wasn’t too shabby, either. Case histories were offered about families who experience unimaginable, incomprehensible challenges; from self-mutilation, to children attempting suicide (sometimes, successfully), to attacks on their caregivers.

The take-home items from such discussions are simply, “How can we prevent this, and successfully treat our population?”

Conclusion
It’s fortuitous that Dr. Ratajczek’s article, which examined the research about vaccine safety, was published at the time of this seminar. Participants have been wringing our hands about the ‘disconnect’ between what we (and many parents) experience every day, and conventional medicine’s dogma. The article might act as fuel-to-the-fire for some, be ignored by the majority, but represents some slight measure of vindication for our hard-working tribe.

We are getting only marginally closer to our understanding about the cause(s), treatment(s), and prevention(s) for autism. Much more research is needed. The Medical Academy of Pediatric Special Needs provides a valuable platform for presenting, evaluating, and disseminating such expertise.

Observations on an Autism Workshop

Sunday, March 5th, 2017

March 5, 2017.
Yesterday, I had the opportunity to be part of a panel for the South Florida Autism Charter Schools‘ medical workshop. In attendance were ~50 parents, and a group of 9 professionals; including dentists, a pediatric neurologist, an Ob-Gyn, a pediatrician, a psychologist and behavioral therapist.

My role was to answer questions regarding the biomedical approach to ASD.
Here are some of the things that I learned:

Parents are extremely frustrated by the lack of available services for special needs patients. “He’s too big for our MRI machine,” or “They do not know how to handle her aggression,” were common complaints. Frankly, the presenters had few useful suggestions that the families hadn’t already attempted.

Therapists and administrators wanted to be sure that parents take advantage of all available means for relief, such as following up with a medication schedule, and notifying appropriate personnel about serious issues in a timely manner.

There was a general dissatisfaction about the medical community’s lack of understanding regarding special needs families. Since the panel was composed of busy professionals willing to give up a Saturday morning, they were basically ‘preachin’ to the choir’.

Everyone agreed that the ideal situation would be a ‘one-stop shop’ for patients to get all necessary testing and treatment. Cancer Treatment Centers of America, for example, advertises that availability, and many facilities now afford such service. It may be some time before supply catches up to the demand, for special needs children, however.

I enjoyed an in-depth discussion with Dr. Jose Berthe about the proper time, types of evaluation, and medical interventions, as girls with developmental challenges get older.

Dr. Yadira Martinez-Fernandez contributed her comprehensive knowledge of autism and cardiac health. Affected children who suffer genetic or other complicated disorders, or who take certain medications, may be at an increased risk, which can be ascertained by appropriate evaluation, such as blood pressure monitoring, or an EKG.

The dental experts reviewed their approach to oral health; from how to get a successful visit, to evaluation and treatment of the common symptom of teeth grinding.

Dr. Carrie Landess provided her unique perspective and valuable insights, as a pediatric neurologist who is also the parent of a child with ASD.

My good friend and colleague, Dr. Linda Colon, offered several practical solutions for the challenged families’ concerns. The general pediatric community would find a great deal more cooperation from families, were they to adopt her thoughtful and empathetic point-of-view toward the autism epidemic.

Dr. Moodie, the Executive Director, is a fireball. Her experience, knowledge, insight, and dedication is leading to tangible changes in the care of children with developmental difficulties.

Conclusion
Parents want – and deserve – more answers, better service, and faster roads to improvement for their special needs children. The South Florida Autism Charter School is doing a great job in providing a tangible means toward those ends.

Susceptibility Factors for Autism

Sunday, January 22nd, 2017

For over twenty years in the last century, I spent my medical training practicing the care and feeding of sick infants. Studies that tie events in the perinatal period to autism carry particular significance. To the extent that research identifies supplements, medications, procedures and interventions, by altering suspect behaviors, we are encouraging ASD prevention.

Here is some recent information that deserves discussion.

Meconium exposure and autism risk.
“Children exposed to meconium were more likely to be diagnosed with autism in comparison with unexposed children… Resuscitation of neonates with respiratory compromise from in utero meconium exposure may mitigate long-term neurodevelopmental damage.”

There has been some debate in the past decade about whether the removal of stool from the windpipe of children who experience some type of stress in the womb prior to birth is the best course of action. This study supports the protocol and also highlights the improvement when a trained clinician examines the newborn’s trachea and takes appropriate action.

Folinic Acid Shown Effective in Autism
Folate is a vitamin that takes several forms as it becomes active in the formation of antioxidant products involved in the B12 pathway. A recent study identified that, “Folinic acid improves verbal communication in children with autism and language impairment: a randomized double-blind placebo-controlled trial.” Various preparations containing a high dose of this supplement are becoming available at more reasonable prices.

This intervention could be important for all ASD patients who experience speech apraxia.

Folate Receptor Antibody Test (FRAT) now readily available for blood
Although the knowledge that deficiency of, and antibodies to, some form of folate may exist in, and be responsible for, some types of ASD, the reality has been that performing a spinal tap (putting a needle in the spine) on children was possibly risky and impractical.

A company has come forward with a reasonably priced, useful blood test that accurately reflects binding and blocking antibodies in the central nervous system. The implication is that providing relief for this condition will result in improved signs and symptoms for affected individuals.

Vitamin D Supplementation for Autism
The significance of this recent study cannot be over-emphasized. Pregnant women should be tested for levels, and treated appropriately. And, all diagnosing clinicians should understand that, along with making an accurate diagnosis, the medical workup should include determination this important nutrient.

Conclusion
Finally, here is some good news surrounding the research of autism cause(s) and treatment(s).

Good Doctors for Autism and ADHD

Sunday, January 15th, 2017

The Best Autism Doctors has been a popular story on this website. My point was that patients need a competent clinician, and that ‘BEST’ is not necessarily relevant, necessary, or attainable for each child. Considering these issues will help a parent make a more informed decision.

All doctors
‘Good’ doctors thoroughly address your specific problems, so their knowledge and abilities are of upmost importance. Patients expect a clean, well-run office, with friendly, competent, respectful staff and up-to-date equipment.

We want caring clinicians who give us the time to explain our problems and really listen. Patience is key. We expect calls to be returned, especially regarding test results – with kind, compassionate responses. We want to be able to refer this professional to others.

Autism specialists
The qualities that make an effective doctor for patients with ASD and ADHD should also include the following:

Adequate observation by the treating physician. Remember, if you’ve seen one child with autism… Personnel trained to recognize ASD may not necessarily consider metabolic or gastrointestinal conditions, so collaboration with the doctor is paramount.

Up-to-date labs, individualized for each patient, with regular testing should be performed. A recent study demonstrated that traditional specialists  “… fail to order tests that should be routinely performed and often order tests that are not routinely indicated yet are neither benign nor inexpensive. Recommended molecular genetic tests are often not ordered.”

Doctors who successfully treat patients with ASD have an extensive education, experience, and devote the time to rigorous continuing education. For parents wishing to go to the ‘best’ autism doctors, membership in the Medical Academy of Pediatric Special Needs should be prerequisite, until some better medical society comes along.

Especially regarding the expenses associated with an autism diagnosis, supplements need to be made available at a fair price. There are thousands of products that claim better toleration, improved absorption, fewer side effects, etc. Your ‘good’ clinician is best suited to make the correct choice. Also, there should be a willingness to explore alternative preparations that make sense.

Interventions that are tailored, not only to a patient’s symptoms, but reflect underlying, treatable problems. As one protocol fails to demonstrate effectiveness, the approach should be altered – sometimes frequently. Professional explanations, appropriate literature, and use of web information goes a long way to reducing the confusion of this difficult developmental diagnosis.

Close follow-up of the clinical course, response to treatment, and childhood development can fashion an improved outcome. Therefore, some method of reasonable response time to emails, phone calls, etc. is an important feature.

‘Good’ doctors show a willingness to collaborate with the traditional therapies and therapists. An experienced staff, who frequently are well-versed in autism, can be a great resource regarding such advice. Parents frequently have questions about issues, from academic environments to alternative treatments.

Regarding the use of supplements and medications, “starting slow and going low,” offers the best opportunity for the parents – the patient’s expert – to report positive and negative results. Complex and/or confusing protocols may lead to more negative results than necessary. Parents should understand specific directions, with as few changes as possible prior to instituting another shift.

‘Good’ autism doctors advise about the efficient use of resources. There are a myriad of interventions, from affordable and readily available vitamins, to expensive hardware and complicated procedures. Due to a paucity of repeatable research, the doctor who studies all possibilities, and understands a family’s resources, can give the best advice. Also, referral and willingness to collaborate with appropriate medical sub-specialists will streamline the process of recovery.

Conclusion
Indeed, even the BEST autism doctor may not be able to assist a severely affected patient. Understanding and effectively treating speech apraxia, repetitive thoughts and behaviors (scripting and stimming), and aggression may be beyond our science, at this time.

This does not mean that parents should not continue to search for better treatments, but that a reasonable workup by a competent, caring clinician who persists in exploring ongoing problems may provide the most effective treatment available.

Becoming a good doctor for this mysterious diagnosis is not so much,
“Thinking outside the box.”
Successful results occur when professionals
Connect the dots • — • — •

ADHD Medication Guide

Sunday, January 8th, 2017

As the academic season becomes more challenging, The Child Development Center is often asked about the various pharmaceutical preparations that are suggested by doctors, behavioral and academic personnel. Specific medicines are frequently prescribed for symptoms that include poor focus and attention, hyperactivity, distractibility, fidgeting, not listening, a short fuse, and lack of self control.

As parents ponder this important decision, here is a useful list to improve understanding and address frequent concerns, in decreasing order of potency and side effects:

Prescription
Methamphetamines

Names: AdderallDesoxynAdzenysDianavelEvekeo, Dexedrine, ProCentra, Zenzeti
Plus Lisdexamphetamine (Vyvanse)

Class – Stimulant, Amphetamine
Comment: These were the first generation of stimulants. They are the most addictive, bring about appetite suppression (‘diet’ pills), create sleep disturbance and growth suppression. Families should consider using these when less potent preparations fail.

Methyphenidates
Names: Methylin, Methylphenidate, Ritalin, Concerta, Daytrona, Quillivant, Quillichew, Aptensio
Plus Dexmethyphenidate (Focalin)

Class –  Psychostimulant, Methylphenidate derivates
Comment: There are actually only two choices in this category, as well. The theory of using stimulant medications for ADHD is that affected patients experience a paradoxical reaction to the invigorating effects that neurotypical individuals would sense.

From a chemical standpoint, all of these names pare down to just 4 compounds. They share these common features:
DEA – Class Rx Schedule 2. Therefore, your doctor will be very careful about documentation and prescription handling, and will require followup visits.
The choices here are usually driven by the formulation; available as a liquid, chewable, patch, pill, or capsule configurations.
Plus, manufacturers offer a myriad of confusing dosage options; from 1, to multiples of 5, to multiples of 10, to multiples of 18 milligrams.
When the medications start to wear off, there is often an increase in negative behaviors. For this reason, dosage and frequency are crucial to produce the most effective amelioration of symptoms.
However, insurance companies have become very restrictive in the preparations that they will cover, and out-of-pocket costs are high. When trying to achieve the optimal medication schedule, such stipulations complicate making the best clinical decisions.
The medical risks of any of these preparations include a myriad of cardiac maladies. The AAP no longer recommends a pediatric cardiology evaluation. This is not a good idea, and once a patient demonstrates that they will continue to take these prescriptions, The Child Development Center refers to the appropriate specialist.

Atomoxitine
Names: Strattera
Class – Non-stimulant
DEA Class – Rx
Comment – Frequently vaunted as THE ‘non-stimulant ADHD medication’. Besides an increased risk of suicidal ideation, significant growth inhibition and sudden death, in my experience, it has never been a useful choice. Really, don’t bother with this remedy.

Phosphatidylserine
Names: Vayarin, PS 100
Class – Non-stimulant
DEA Class – Medical food
Comment – The active ingredient is a natural fat that is supposed to aid cell-to-cell communication in the brain. The name brand contains an omega 3 oil, and requires a prescription. The over-the-counter product might be preferable if the patient is allergic to fish or soy.

Non-Prescription Stimulants
Despite a 2004 study that demonstrated that nicotine was equivalent to methylphenidate in ADHD symptom reduction, the practice has not become popular due to the inability to control the patch dosage and skin discomfort. However, the effects of caffeine may provide a reasonable alternative. At The Child Development Center, pure caffeine is chosen over coffee, tea or other products that contain a multitude of other ingredients, in order to objectively assess the results of administration.

Conclusions
1. The most important factor in deciding on treatment is a precise diagnosis, which requires a thorough history, physical examination, and appropriate laboratory testing. A doctor cannot simply look at your child and declare that they have ADHD.

2. Medication administration continues to be offered to younger and younger children. Deferring pharmaceutical intervention can mitigate against the most significant side effects.

3. When stimulants are initiated, it is not unusual for parents to observe that, either the med doesn’t work quickly as expected, or that the child acts like a ‘zombie’, or that the child exhibits even more hyperactive behaviors.

4. Although this guide is presented in order of medicinal ‘strength’, whether a product works depends on a myriad of factors. Preparations that are lower on the list may be far superior to more potent formulas. Plus, the mere observation that the child is sitting still does not necessarily reflect that real learning is taking place.

5. Research continues to demonstrate that appropriate behavioral therapy is a useful and effective treatment.

TheAutismDoctor’s Top Stories

Friday, December 30th, 2016

As I have previously explained, I produce this blogpost for 4 principle reasons; to learn, to teach, to offer a middle-ground, and to ventilate about the less-than-state-of-the-art medical care offered to patients with autism and ADHD. Here are my picks for 2016’s most useful stories:

January
In An Autism Prevention, we learned about medications taken during pregnancy that could be contributing to the autism epidemic. Pharmaceutical preparations that have become ubiquitous in this century are suspect. Reducing their intake could result in a decrease in the number of new cases.

February
Americans With Autism Act. This was my opportunity to blow off steam about a local fight to get a student with ASD the necessary and deserved services. The outcome was in direct conflict with decades-long evidence that ABA works.

March
I often give advice about the difficult problem with Speech Apraxia. This article lamented the sad state of affairs regarding scientific identification of the problem, let alone workable solutions.
(Happily, this situation has been somewhat addressed in this recent, randomized study utilizing folinic acid.)

April
Vaccination Redux was this year’s best effort to explain my position on the childhood vaccination schedule. What can I say? The problem won’t be resolved by bullying or vaccine industry-supported research. BTW, I am not against childhood vaccinations.

May
Folate Issues. Folic acid has been in the news throughout the year. This story was about too much of a good thing, if taken during pregnancy. Obviously this vitamin, and the pathways that are involved, are very important to our understanding of the autism mystery.

June
The importance of Genetic Testing in Autism was my opportunity to spread the word that a modern medical workup should include appropriate laboratory testing, including a chromosomal microarray. The subject material is dense, but key to understanding one group of autisms.

July
Acetaminophen and Autism presented scientific evidence to warn about the casual us of this potential culprit. Four studies were made available, so pregnant women should take note, and seek more acceptable alternatives for relief.

August
In Digital Devices and Autism, I expressed my opinion to the frequently asked question, “Is it OK to give junior the iThing?” Children who seem to gain real academic benefit are few. Mostly, iStuff provides no imagination and no socialization, fueling core deficiencies in ASD.

September
Processing Disorders and Autism, crystallizes a decade of my understanding about this set of childhood developmental and physical disorders.
By connecting the dots about the various maladies that affect patients, such as sensory processing, GI problems, and low core muscle tone, we achieve a greater understanding about the causes, and downstream behavioral effects.

October
Just in case pediatricians haven’t noticed the epidemic, and because the US Preventative Task Force has recommended against formal testing, I continue to write at least one Early Signs post each year, to enlighten the unenlightened.

November
Medical school exposes students to very-little-to-zero information about alternative healing services; such as chiropractic, naturopathic, and homeopathic remedies. This story was about my research and experience as relates to the turmeric plant. Its antioxidant properties have helped our patients with gastrointestinal, behavioral and even developmental challenges.

December
A bit of levity. I have spent months perfecting the 12 Days of Autism Christmas.
Perhaps, next year I’ll attempt to furnish new lyrics for Dreidel, Dreidel, Dreidel.

Conclusion
This is TheAutismDoctor’s year-end opportunity to rediscover the polarized world of Special Needs Pediatric diagnosis and treatment. My articles take a great deal of time, study, and thought. So, they are all important to me, and should be helpful for families and professionals, as well.

Autism Literature Review 2016

Sunday, December 18th, 2016

In the face of an exploding incidence of childhood developmental abnormalities, scientific knowledge is sorely lacking. These are my top picks for the most useful human research that improves our understanding about the cause(s) and treatment(s) of these conditions.

Genetics
The Journal of Developmental Behavioral Pediatrics published research that demonstrated, “… ASD rates were 11.30% and 0.92% for younger siblings of older affected and unaffected siblings, respectively… Risk remained higher in younger boys than girls regardless of the sex of affected older siblings.”

Environment
As the Zika virus epidemic has emerged, new research has appeared, noting Aerial spraying to combat mosquitoes linked to increased risk of autism in children.

Incidence
A new study was published documenting the increased incidence of ASD in preterm births. “These results can be used to help show the importance of adequate prenatal care to help reduce the prevalence of preterm births, which can hopefully help to reduce the prevalence of ASD.”

Diagnosis
Appearing in this year’s literature was an article describing a new blood biomarker for autism. “In this discovery study, the ASD1 peptoid was 66% accurate in predicting ASD.”

General health
Perhaps not surprisingly, a recent study documented significantly shorter life span for patients with ASD. However, the reduction was an alarming 18 years.

Biomedical Treatments
The credibility of diagnosing medical issues and addressing abnormalities in systems throughout the body was boosted in an article by Drs. Frye and Rossignol (president of The Medical Academy of Pediatric Special Needs). This year, I achieved fellowship status in that learned body of clinicians.

Nutrition
Low vitamin D levels are ubiquitous in the practice of Special Needs Pediatric Medicine. Breastfeeding moms should supplement. The problem may stem from low levels in the Mom.
For those skeptics who ask, “What do vitamins have to do with ASD?” there is this study, Randomized controlled trial of vitamin D supplementation in children with Autism Spectrum Disorder.

Speech
Using high dose folinic acid may provide significant relief for our patients who suffer from speech apraxia. The main challenge is acquiring the supplement at an affordable price.

Early Intervention
In spite of last year’s US Task force on Autism declaration that early screening is not warranted, research in November’s Lancet concluded, “long-term symptom reduction after a randomised controlled trial of early intervention in autism spectrum disorder.”

Prevention
A study in the Journal of the American Medical Association concluded, “Use of antidepressants, specifically selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, during the second and/or third trimester increases the risk of ASD in children, even after considering maternal depression.

In June, evidence supporting an another pharmaceutical connection to autism was presented. “Prenatal acetaminophen exposure was associated with a greater number of autism spectrum symptoms in males and showed adverse effects on attention-related outcomes for both genders…”

Conclusions
Why does it seem to be taking so much time for useful human studies to appear? Dollars for basic research depend on funding agencies’ understanding of this enigmatic condition. Plus, it takes more than a billion dollars to develop any new medication, so ASD is a very risky proposition.

Then, there is the Bettleheim effect (he popularized the ‘refrigerator mom’ theory), the Wakefield effect (any new idea about autism becomes suspect), the vaccine effect (just talking about ASD leads to this controversy), and the continued debate about whether there even really IS an epidemic.

However, practically everyone, nowadays, knows some family that is touched by this developmental disorder. We must continue to hope that progress will accelerate in response to the reality of a condition that affects so many of our children.

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Brian D. Udell MD
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