An Update for 2002
Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride MD
This book has included my article on the nutritional management of our son Nicholas, which was published in the fifth issue of Autism File in autumn 2000. More than a year has passed since then and there have been some new developments, which I would like to share with you.
A big change in the nutritional management of our son Nicholas and many other autistic children, whom I see in my clinic, was the introduction of a new probiotic Bio-Kult. In the article on Nicholas' nutritional management I described the use of a probiotic Primal Defence. It is a good probiotic. However, as far as children were concerned, it had some serious drawbacks: its black-green colour was very difficult to disguise in any food or drink, it had a distinctive taste which the majority of children found objectionable, and it did not dissolve in water or any other drink. These factors made it very difficult to administer Primal Defence to children and as a result many of them did not take it.
Bio-Kult has been developed with children in mind. It dissolves in water, it is white and easy to disguise in foods and it has got a slightly sweet taste, which children like. But the most important thing is that it works just as well as Primal Defence and in many cases even better. Now there are over 400 autistic children in this country taking Bio-Kult with very good results.
In my clinic in Cambridge apart of children with autism I see adults and children with many other common problems, like eczema, asthma, diabetes, dyslexia, dyspraxia, digestive and immune disorders. Many of them also benefit from taking Bio-Kult as a part of their nutritional management.
In the subsequent issues of Autism File I have published my views on the most appropriate diet and nutritional supplementation for autistic children. These issues will be included in the next Autism File book. An appropriate diet is of paramount importance in helping an autistic child to overcome his/her condition. The Casein and gluten free diet is well established in the world of autism. However, it is not enough. Autism starts in the digestive tract. In my practice I see patients with all sorts of digestive disorders and the first things that they can not digest are sugars and starches. Processed foods full of sugars and starches feed pathogenic bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites in the gut of an autistic child, allowing them to flourish and produce a lot of toxic substances, which cause autistic symptoms. As long as the child has these foods in the diet, whether gluten and casein free or not, autism will keep its grip on the child. In the article on the nutritional management of Nicholas in this book I have described in detail what happens to the child, when his/her gut flora is abnormal, a condition called gut dysbiosis. Gut Dysbiosis is in the centre of autism development and has to be addressed through the diet and supplementation, with probiotics being the most important. Just a gluten and casein free diet does not address this problem. The diet, which I have described in the issues 6 and 7 of Autism File, is specifically designed to address gut Dysbiosis and hence deal with autism on the most fundamental level - at its roots. Once the normal gut flora is restored, a lot of parents with autistic children find that their child can tolerate gluten and casein and even sugar on an occasional basis, which allows the whole family to go out for a meal and enjoy it without thinking about the diet. What happens is that in a gut with abnormal bacterial flora, gluten, casein and other food constituents get digested by pathogenic bacteria and converted into toxic substances, which absorb into the blood stream and cause symptoms. When the gut flora is normalised, foods get digested properly and converted into normal substances, which do not cause symptoms. Normal healthy gut flora is the natural way of insuring appropriate digestion and absorption of foods and keeping vast numbers of various "bad" microbes under control.
We see an epidemic of autism unfolding in front of our eyes. Of course for us, parents of autistic children, autism is the most importunate disease on Earth. But, for those of us, who work in medicine, autism is not the only epidemic unfolding. Childhood eczema, asthma, diabetes, other learning disabilities, allergies, digestive and immune disorders are all gaining epidemic proportions. Though on the surface these conditions seem to be different and unrelated, they all have their roots in one big epidemic - the epidemic of Gut Dysbiosis. Widespread use of antibiotics, steroids, including the contraceptive pill, many other drugs, consumption of processed foods full of additives and sugar, toxic environment, chlorinated water and prolonged stress are the main causes of Gut Dysbiosis. Almost invariably the parents of autistic children have symptoms of this condition. The baby is born with a sterile gut and gets its gut flora from the mother. If the mother has got an abnormal gut flora, then that is what the baby will have. Babies are also born with an immature immune system. Development of normal gut flora is a major player in proper maturation of the baby's immune system. If the gut flora is abnormal then we can not expect a normal immune system. As a result the baby becomes immune compromised. A compromised immune system is not going to react to environmental shocks appropriately. Vaccination is a very big shock for the immune system and can seriously deepen the damage to it. We are all familiar with the recent controversy about the MMR vaccine. Though MMR or any other vaccine on its own does not cause autism, in a child with compromised immunity it would damage the immune system even further and in some children can be that "last straw which breaks the camel's back". So, as far as vaccination is concerned, children with compromised immunity should not be vaccinated with any vaccine, MMR or any other. Vaccinating a baby with an abnormal immune system is not only dangerous but pointless, because a compromised immune system is not going to respond to the vaccine as expected. Vaccines are designed for healthy immune systems! A compromised immune system will not respond to the vaccine with the development of life protection from measles, for example. It can respond in a completely unpredictable way, leaving the child not only unprotected from measles, but with more damage to the immune system and more serious consequences.
Seeing that Gut Dysbiosis and hence compromised immunity in babies and children are becoming epidemic, it is time for the medical establishment and the government to change their policy on vaccination. Instead of insisting that everybody must be vaccinated, they should concentrate on developing a pre-vaccination screening test for compromised immunity in babies. There are a number of efficient immunological tests already in existence. They have to be put into an appropriate panel for screening all babies before contemplating any vaccination.
In my clinic I pay a lot of attention to the health of siblings of autistic children. It is a usual picture that these children, who often are very bright and have no hints of autism, display other symptoms of Gut Dysbiosis: eczema, asthma, dyslexia, dyspraxia, digestive problems, etc.. Of course, they got their gut flora form the same mother so they would have the same underlying problem. However, because they genetically differ from their autistic sibling, they channel this underlying problem of gut dysbiosis into different organs, sparing the brain. I feel very strongly that younger siblings of autistic children should not be vaccinated and I usually advise an appropriate nutritional management for them in order to establish a normal gut flora in these children as well, thus preventing any possibility of developing autistic symptoms, asthma, eczema, digestive problems, etc..
As a doctor, I believe in paying attention to the health of the parents of autistic children. Caring for a child with a disability is a monumental task and requires a lot of energy and stamina. Unfortunately, almost in every case I see health problems in parents of autistic children, which need to be addressed. Appropriate nutritional management is the most effective way to deal with these health problems, which would allow the parents to have more energy to cope with their family situation.
In conclusion I would like to say that being a parent of an autistic child puts you on a roller-coaster learning curve. Having gone through the rougher initial phases of it you find that it never ends. It irreversibly shapes your life and the life of your family. You become knowledgeable on a wide range of health matters, which allows you to take proper care of your own health and the health of your whole family. As the popular saying goes, "Every cloud has got a silver lining!". Having gone through the blackest part of the cloud the majority of us find that the silver lining is definitely there, and it has been well worth the effort.
Keep on learning!