Food Allergies and Autism

(c) Immuno Laboratories-Sidney MacDonald Baker, MD
(EDITOR'S NOTE: Autism is growing at near epidemic rates in certain regions of America, in fact a recent study by the state Department of Developmental Services indicates the number of autism cases has nearly doubled in California in the last four years. Parents of autistic children are caught in a double bind...) their children's discomfort increases, recommended treatments show promise at first, but eventually disappoint, and the range of options offering hope, seems to dwindle. 

Anyone who has suffered with the wide spectrum of symptoms associated with autism understands how frustrating it can be...

...with all the remarkable advances in modern medicine, they must continue to struggle. 

...The good news is that some fellow sufferers have found a path to relief, and while not a solution for every situation, the path that they followed is contained within this article.)

Are you unknowingly feeding your child foods that cause or aggravate autistic symptoms?
Read what one medical doctor has found over 30 years in practice... 

Children with autism are sensitive. Of the thousands of children I have known in thirty years as a doctor, the few hundred with problems in the spectrum related to autism stand out as the most distinctively sensitive of them all. Touching, tasting, hearing, smelling, and seeing involve an enterprise that is not only characterized by difficulties in processing and organization but is also involves a heightened, often painful, sensitivity.

What does it mean to be sensitive? 
We all know what it feels like to have sunburned skin or a reaction to a certain sound of chalk on the black board and we can empathize with children who are involved in a more global sensitivity, but we scientists still do not understand what happens at the cellular or molecular level to change a person's reactivity from normal to sensitive. Even the words we use: "hypersensitive", "allergic", "intolerant", "hyper-reactive" do not have precise definitions. Many physicians, however, would quibble if we were to say that "autistic children are allergic" as opposed to "allergic children are sensitive".

Autism is not caused by allergy, and yet...
Don't get me wrong. I am not saying that "autism is caused by allergy". I am saying that children who have problems in the autistic spectrum (as well as children who have significant attention problems) are sensitive not just in the area of their senses, but also in their immune system's reaction to the environment. This association is a lot easier for me to understand if I look at the central nervous system (CNS) and immune systems from a functional, as opposed to an anatomical, point of view. 

How important is the food allergy link to children?
...When you have lots of other things to think about, should you change the diet of a child who has decided to live on French fries, smooshed bagels, chocolate milk, pretzels, Twinkies and diet coke, rejecting all alternatives with an iron will? Yup! And when you get over the hump, you are likely to be rewarded with changes in sleep, behavior, attention and "sensitivity" that make the struggle worth it. There are several ways of checking for food allergy. Trial and error changes in diet are tedious but inexpensive. I have found IgG ELISA blood testing as done at Immuno Laboratories to be a reliable measure both in term of my experience with individuals as well as in research studies done to validate the test.

Dr. Baker practices, writes, and does research in Connecticut. He is a graduate of Yale School of Medicine and former Director of the Gesell Institute of Human Development in New Haven.