Autism, usually defined as a behavioral disorder, shows strong evidence to being the result of events that induce types of digestive dysfunction that lead to fungal overgrowth, xenobiotics, neurotoxicity, etc. Does resulting low Vitamin A absorption play a critical role in many of the behaviors of autism?

Gastrointestinal Disorders - In 36 autistic children, 69.4% had reflux esophagitis and 58.3% had low intestinal carbohydrate digestive enzyme activity, suggesting that autistic children have a high degree of gastrointestinal disorders. Seventy- five percent of the autistic children had an increased pancreatico- biliary fluid output after intravenous secretin administration. "Gastrointestinal Abnormalities in Children With Autistic Disorder," Horvath K, et al, J Pediatr, November, 1999;135(5):559- 563. In one case, complete remission of autism was obtained by infusions of gamma globulin (a concentrate of human antibodies). Gupta et al, Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 1996;26:439-52.

Fungal metabolites - Bernard Rimland is a pioneer in the field of autism. His data indicates a marked increase in new cases of autism during the same period that the use of antibiotics skyrocketed.  Numerous studies have linked frequent otitis media with attention deficit hyperactivity (Hagerman and Fallrenstein, Clinical Pediatrics, 1987;26:253-57). More than 700 articles in the medical literature document antibiotic stimulation of yeast growth as well as increased growth of antibiotic resistant bacteria such as clostridia. Both early onset and the high frequency of otitis media are associated with greater severity of autism (Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 1987;17:585) In infants who have lost eye contact with the mother, an early symptom of autism, after antibiotic administration, Nystatin restored normal eye contact. The pharmaceutical industry knew about yeast overgrowth problems in the 1950s when oral antibiotics were introduced.  A number of antibiotics combined with the antifungal drug, Nystatin, were produced in the 1950s, but the use of these combination products was killed by the FDA, which took the position that these products shouldn't be used for prophylactic use.

Xenobiotics -Twenty autistic individuals (15 boys and 5 girls), mean age of 6.35 years, had evidence of xenobiotic burden and abnormal liver detoxification processes. One hundred percent of the cases showed abnormal liver detoxification profiles. "Autism: Xenobiotic Influences," Edelson SB and Cantor DS, Toxicology and Industrial Health, 1998;14(4):553-563. 

Neurotoxicity - Peptides, which are fragments of protein of certain foods (predominantly wheat and possibly from casein), may trigger abnormalities in opioid metabolism and other metabolic pathways, aggravating schizophrenia and/or autism. Studies have shown that when there is low consumption of wheat, there is reduced incidence of schizophrenia. In one sense it is hard to believe that foods could affect neurologic disorders, but it is well known in celiac disease that approximately 8% of the patients with this condition develop neurologic illness. It may be that this is an immunologic disease, because antibodies to gluten may be neurotoxic. An excellent review of this is given in the Lancet, February 10, 1996; 347:369-371, article 24229, by Dr. Hadjivassiliou. 

Very small amounts of tetanus neurotoxin injected directly into the brains of laboratory animals create a stereotyped behavior syndrome, which may be similar to autism.  Tetanus infection can occur in immunized individuals.  Researcher Ellen R. Bolte believes that intestinal tetanus infections may occur in children chronically exposed to antibiotics given to treat ear infections.  Antibiotics can increase the risk of infection of the intestinal tract by pathogenic bacteria, including Clostridium tetani.  Autism occurs in boys 4 times as often as in girls, as does tetanus infection.  Autistic children often have too-high or too-low muscle tone, and these may be mild tetanus symptoms.  Tetanus neurotoxin can cause long-term and severe inhibition of neurotransmitter release in the brain.  Tetanus infection may increase intestinal permeability, increasing hypersensitivity and some autistic features. "Does Tetanus Play a Role in Autism?" Autism Research Review International, 1998; 12(4):1,6/"Autism and Clostridium tetani," Bolte ER, Med Hypotheses, 1998;51:133-144.  

Vaccines - The Dawbarns law firm from England notes that they are working with 150 families whose children became autistic following the Measles-Mumps-Rubella (MMR) vaccine.  In addition, Dr. Andrew Wakefield of the Royal Free Hospital in London has also conducted research suggesting a strong link between the MMR vaccination and Crohn's disease.  A concern is whether some vaccines are being given too early, before the infant's immune system can cope with them. "Autism- Vaccination Link in United Kingdom?" Autism Research Review International, 1996;10(4):1. 

Clinical Considerations

Secretin - In early October 1998, news of the potential role of secretin in the treatment of autism was released due to the excellent work of Victoria Beck.  The Ferring Company sold out of secretin by October 16th.  A national newspaper told of a Florida pediatrician whose own 4-year-old son shocked his parents by holding his first normal conversation with them the day after his first secretin infusion.  Another case involved a 5-year-old who had previously said only two words and amazed everyone in the medical office by talking 15 minutes after his infusion. "The Use of Secretin in Autism: Some Preliminary Answers," Rimland B, Autism Research Review International, 1998;12(4):3.

HCL/Pepsin - A mother gave hydrochloric acid-pepsin (HCL- pepsin) to her 8-year-old autistic child, which helped change loose bowels of undigested food to 100% normal stools the next day after taking this supplement.  The child could tolerate more foods, and her moods were vastly improved.  Pancreatic supplements did not have any benefit. Dr. Jonathan Wright has stated that HCL supplementation can increase secretin production, the reason why HCL supplementation may be of benefit to autistic individuals.  "Autism and Digestion," Takacs B, Autism Research Review International, 1998;12(4):7. 

Optometry, Prism Lens - A recent study suggests that autistic children have abnormal "ambient vision".  This is the type of vision used to orient oneself to environment, movement and depth.  In evaluating 14 autistic children between 4 and 15 years of age, it was found that those who previously tilted their heads during activities were significantly more likely to hold their heads erect, in the correct position, while wearing lenses. In a ball-catching test, prism glasses led to an increase in active catches and a decrease in passive catches and misses.  The performance improvements were immediate in this group. Children¦s facial expressions were generally much less tense while they were wearing the corrective prism lenses.  Kaplan, et al., suggests that professionals should consider incorporating corrective ambient lenses into standard treatment programs for autism.  Other researchers have noted significant improvement in autistic individuals treated with both traditional prescription glasses and special lenses and prisms that alter their sensory input. "Prism Lenses Reduce Autistic Symptoms, Improve Performance," Autism Research Review International, 1996;10(4):4/"Postural Orientation Modifications in Autism in Response to Ambient Lenses," Kaplan, Melvin, et al, Child Psychiatry and Human Development, Winter, 1996;27(2):81- 91.

Bernard Rimland, Ph.D. For good scientific documentation for nutritional approaches to autism, he can be contacted at: Autism Research Institute, 4182 Adams Avenue, San Diego, CA  92116 U.S.A. They offer a highly recommend quarterly newsletter for $16.00 per year. Therapies for autism include high dose vitamin B6 200-1000 mg/d, magnesium 100- 500 mg/d and dimethylglycine 125 mg/d 1-8 tablets. To a lesser frequency autistic children may benefit from folic acid, vitamin C, and food elimination. Therapies have frequently resulted in a rapid - sometimes overnight - appearance of speech in formerly non-speaking autistic children. Both vitamin B6 and dimethylglycine have strong anti-seizure properties and can be effective even when other anti-seizure medications fail. "Seizures, Vitamin B6, DMG, and Sudden Speech," Autism Research Review International, 1996;10(2):1  

Vitamin A - Mary Megson, MD, FAAP, Director of Developmental Pediatrics at Children's Hospital in Richmond Virginia, recently noted that in 90 % of families, usually the maternal parent of the autistic child, has a history of night blindness. Gut dysbiosis often begins with hypochlorhydria. Knowing that secretin stimulates bile secretion to emulsify the fat soluble vitamins of A, D, E, K, etc for their proper absorption, she focused on a vitamin A deficiency for the lack of cell growth and differentiation in the eyes and critical gate centers of the brain. Using a cod liver oil source of vitamin A to support eye and brain function, she observed dramatic improvement in autistic patients in their vision, manner, communication skills and social behavior. An occasional after-school-snack of raw organic carrots helps explain the lucid vocal outbursts of an autistic-labeled, incoherent, socially locked-in child who craved only junk food and disappeared within.   

Consider Hydrozyme as a HCL source, IAG where there are chronic infections, especially otitis media, and Bio AE-Mulsion Forte as an already emulsified vitamin A source.