Archives for September 2015

The Connection between Thiomersal in Vaccines and Autism

Neuroscientist Janet K. Kern, PhD, speaks in this video about the connection between thiomersal in vaccines and autism. Thiomersal, commonly known in the U.S. as thimerosal, is an organomercury compound. Dr. Kern gave this talk for the UNEP Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee in Punta del Este, Uruguay, in July, 2012. She is a director of the Council for Nutritional and Environmental Medicine (CONEM), and the chairman of the CONEM US Autism Research Group.

 

Digestive Enzyme Therapy: A Possible Option in Autism Spectrum Disorder

There is growing evidence for a gut-brain connection associated with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), which suggests a potential benefit for digestive enzyme therapy in autistic children (1). Working with an Egyptian team, Geir Bjørklund and collaborators performed a double-blind, randomized clinical trial on 101 children with ASD (82 boys and 19 girls) aged from 3 to 9 years (1). The autistic children were diagnosed according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders 4th edition, text revision (DSM-IV-TR) diagnostic criteria. Structured interviews of at least one hour were first performed both with the parents and the children. In a later two hours session was the Childhood Autism Rating Scale (CARS) applied. After this, the children with ASD were randomized to receive digestive enzymes or placebo (1). It was found that autistic children that received digestive enzyme therapy for three months had significant improvement in emotional response, general impression autistic score, general behavior, and gastrointestinal symptoms. These results indicate that digestive enzyme therapy in the future may be a possible option in the treatment protocols for ASD (1).

The first author of the article, Khaled Saad, is Associate Professor of Pediatrics at Assiut University, Assiut, Egypt. Geir Bjørklund is the founder and president of the Council for Nutritional and Environmental Medicine (CONEM).

 

Reference

1. Saad K, Eltayeb AA, Mohamad IL, Al-Atram AA, Elserogy Y, Bjørklund G, El-Houfey AA, Nicholson B. A randomized, placebo-controlled trial of digestive enzymes in children with autism spectrum disorders. Clin Psychopharmacol Neurosci 2015; 13(2): 188-193.

 

Vitamin D Deficiency Correlates with Severity of Autism and Shows Improvement with Supplementation

Vitamin D deficiency has been previously reported in patients with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). However, the data on the relationship between vitamin D deficiency and the severity of ASD are limited. In collaboration with Egyptian researchers, Geir Bjørklund (2015) performed a case-controlled cross-sectional analysis on 122 children with ASD, to assess their vitamin D status compared to healthy control children and the relationship between the degree of vitamin D deficiency and the severity of ASD (1).

Fifty-seven percent of the patients with ASD in the study had vitamin D deficiency, and 30% had vitamin D insufficiency. The vitamin D levels in the children with severe ASD were significantly lower than those in children with mild/moderate ASD. It was found that the vitamin D levels had significant negative correlations with the Childhood Autism Rating Scale (CARS) scores (1).

106 children with low serum vitamin D levels (<30 ng/ml) then participated in an open-label trial of vitamin D supplementation. The patients were given 300 IU/kg/day (not to exceed 5000 IU/day) for three months. Eighty-three ASD patients completed three months of daily vitamin D treatment. 80.72% (67/83) of the children with ASD who received vitamin D3 treatment had significantly improved outcome, which was mainly in the sections of the Childhood Autism Rating Scale and aberrant behavior checklist subscales that measure behavior, stereotype, eye contact, and attention span (1). Of the 16 parameters measured, ten showed highly statistically significant improvements (see table below).

 

Parameter  P Value (* highly statistically significant)
Relating to people <0.001*
Emotional Response <0.001*
Imitation <0.001*
Body use 0.01*
Object use 0.01*
Adaption to change 0.004*
Listening response 0.01*
Taste, smell, touch 0.1
Visual response 0.003*
Fear 0.13
Verbal communication 0.3
Activity level 0.32
Non-verbal communication 0.2
Intellectual response 0.1
General impression <0.001*
Total CARS score <.001*

 

The researchers concluded that as vitamin D is inexpensive, readily available and safe it may have beneficial effects in ASD patients, particularly when the final serum level is more than 40 ng/ml (1). It should be noted that these results were achieved after only three months of vitamin D supplementation. In a condition that is often present at birth and lasts a lifetime, this is a highly significant finding and should be fully explored immediately.

The first author of the study, Khaled Saad, is Associate Professor of Pediatrics at Assiut University, Assiut, Egypt. Geir Bjørklund is founder and president of the Council for Nutritional and Environmental Medicine (CONEM). Also, one of the coauthors is John Cannell, MD. He is the founder of the Vitamin D Council in San Luis Obispo, California, United States. The study is registered in UMIN Clinical Trials Registry: UMIN000016770.

 

Reference

1. Saad K, Abdel-rahman AA, Elserogy YM, Al-Atram AA, Cannell JJ, Bjørklund G et al. Vitamin D Status in Autism Spectrum Disorders and the Efficacy of Vitamin D Supplementation in Autistic Children. Nutr Neurosci. Article first published online: 15 Apr 2015. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1179/1476830515Y.0000000019.

 

Increased Frequency of Metal Allergy in Patients with Connective Tissue Disorders

Stejskal, Reynolds, and Bjørklund examined the frequency of metal allergy in 38 patients with connective tissue disorders (1). Of these patients, 16 had rheumatoid arthritis, 13 had Sjögren’s syndrome, and nine had systemic lupus erythematosus. A control group of 43 healthy age and sex-matched subjects were included in the study. Metal allergy was evaluated using the optimized lymphocyte transformation test MELISA. For all subjects, the primary source of metal exposure was dental metal restorations. Most of the tested patients (87%) reacted to at least one metal, and many (63%) reacted to two or more of the tested metals. 43% of the healthy subjects in the study reacted to one metal, and 18% reacted to two or more metals. The increased frequency of metal allergy in the patient group compared with the control group was statistically significant (P < 0.0001). The most frequent allergens in the study were nickel, mercury, gold, and palladium.

Vera Stejskal is Associate Professor of Immunology at University of Stockholm, Sweden. She is founder and president of the MELISA Medica Foundation. Tim Reynolds is Professor of Clinical Biochemistry at the University of Wolverhampton, and a consultant chemical pathologist working at Burton Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Burton upon Trent, United Kingdom. Geir Bjørklund is founder and president of the Council for Nutritional and Environmental Medicine (CONEM).

Reference
1. Stejskal V, Reynolds T, Bjørklund G. Increased frequency of delayed type hypersensitivity to metals in patients with connective tissue disease. J Trace Elem Med Biol 2015; 31: 230-236.