Wednesday, June 15, 2011

When things change...

Stability is precious. When something changes (like last week's grand mal seizure) hope tends to plummet.

Last week at school Milli suffered a significant seizure that began with her dropping to the floor and produced severe convulsions and unconsciousness. When I picked her up within the hour she was barely semi-conscious and not very responsive; she began to vomit in the car and couldn't wake up sufficiently to know it was happening. I had to pull over quickly and hold her head forward so she didn't choke.

Hospital was of course a consideration, but every time she's gone to hospital in the past it's taken hours to be seen. Hours in a waiting room with a normal child are bad enough, but Milli finds any kind of wait unbearable, and I felt it would stress her even further. So home we went, planning to call my doctor and try to slip in between appointments at first chance.

Not a chance. Local doctors have full books (mostly) and full appointment schedules; none of the doctors we see could squeeze her in that day, or the next. With a long weekend ensuing, we didn't manage to find an appointment until a week later.

Ah well. She was groggy all that first day and unhappy and non-contacty for 2 days after that, but by the fourth day she was showing signs of full recovery. Now she's a little more prone to tears than usual, but quite happy and well. Ironically this is doctor day!

What we need to do next of course is work out whether the seizure was a one-off or evidence of full-on epilepsy. Unfortunately over the past six months Milli has also had fits of vomiting (sometimes quite violent) while at school, at a rate of about one per month. It's possible these were a form of sub-seizure epilepsy.

I guess after 3 years without medical investigation and thorough examination (as opposed to the whole pediatric rigmarole: visits; questions; diagnoses; tests) it's time to go back to base for a new assessment. However if she does have fully fledged epilepsy then I imagine we'll be considering drug therapy for the first time. I don't mind that if it's clear that she's going to have regular seizures, but I have to hope there are no brain-deadening side effects. I know Milli is happiest when she's alert; there's nothing she enjoys more than games of chasings and catch and kiss.

So there we have it, a simple round-up of what's been going on, with no major 'what if' or 'how did this come about?'.

Sometimes that's all I'm capable of anyhow.
Something causes autism.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

More thoughts about GM corn, Bt toxin, antibiotics and autism...

Reading the Permaculture Institute article below has started me thinking about some of the other factors that come into the question of what might trigger or cause autism.

One of the major observations of clinicians is that children with autism have often being exposed to antibiotics more often than those without autism. (This may be because autistic children simply get more illnesses, or may be because antibiotics predispose children to autism: it's hard to know what comes first.) However antibiotics are also sometimes one of the treatment methods in healing the gut, if there are signs of massively abnormal gut flora. What a tricky role they play!

Antibiotics, of course, reduce and sometimes completely deplete normal intestinal bacteria. This is why we all take yoghurt afterward. However if a child's normal gut flora is disrupted, might it then become more likely that the Bt toxin producing bacterial genes become established in the new gut colony? Thus a child undergoing antibiotic treatment at the time of weaning (or soon after) who also lives in a toxin-laden environment might develop more serious neurological symptoms than a child with only one of those factors, if gene transfer between Bt toxin-producing corn and intestinal bacteria is a cause.

I have no idea if this is possible or if the mechanisms exist to make it likely. But I've always wondered how antibiotic use might affect the ingestion and non-excretion of heavy metals. It seems to me that gut flora suddenly converted to mostly Bt-carrying (therefore actively and in an ongoing fashion damaging the gut wall) could be one way the intestinal lining suddenly becomes more open to toxins, and stays that way unless targeted by treatments. This may also explain to some degree why probiotics help: because swamping the gut with new bacterial genes may water down the presence of Bt producing ones.

As usual it's a question, not an answer. But something causes autism, and it seems now (despite many years since vaccination) to be causing long term digestion and attention problems in my son.

Another autism cause theory... GM corn

A recent Permaculture Institute article about genetically modified (GM) food toxins persisting into the human bloodstream makes a persuasive case for further research in relation to autism.

The article, found here, spells out a possible and plausible means by which ongoing gut impairment could be connected to GM foods.

Apparently the toxin 'Bt' (Bacillus thuringiensis), which is produced by GM corn as a pesticide, breaks down the stomach lining of pests and kills them. However according to the article, scientists have recently found that the Bt toxin also finds its way into human and foetal blood after ingestion of the corn. Since original claims about GM corn stated that the toxin can't possibly get past the mammalian digestive system, clearly something odd is going on.

Now the article spells out a possible cause. The author states that in an earlier study GM 'Roundup ready' genes were found functioning inside human gut bacteria, having transferred across from the food. This raises the question whether Bt toxin-producing genes may also have become functional within human guts: that is, the genes for producing Bt toxins may have transferred from the corn to human gut bacteria. In that case it's possible that Bt toxins being produced in an ongoing fashion in the gut are causing the erosion we see in autism and various other conditions.

GM foods have been in the human food chain (according to the article) since 1996. In Australia, we're taught that most of our food is grown without genetic modification, but if you dig deeper you can easily find out that we've been eating GM substances in processed foods for years.

The neurological damage in autism, as I've argued before, has almost certainly got a lot to do with heavy metals and possibly other toxic substances like pesticides as well. However prior to that has always been the question of gut lining damage allowing those toxins to pass the gut barrier. Here for the first time is a plausible rationale. It's not pleasant reading because it suggests that the toxins depleting the gut lining will keep on being made even in the absence of a GM food.

I quote from the article below:

'If the “living pesticide factory” hypothesis is correct, we might speculate even further. Bt-toxin breaks open the stomach of insects. Could it similarly be damaging the integrity of our digestive tracts? The biotech companies insist that Bt-toxin doesn’t bind or interact with the intestinal walls of mammals, and therefore humans. But here too they ignore peer-reviewed published evidence showing that Bt-toxin does bind with mouse small intestines and with intestinal tissue from rhesus monkeys. [...]

'If Bt-toxins were causing leaky gut syndrome in newborns, the passage of undigested foods and toxins into the blood from the intestines could be devastating. Scientists speculate that it may lead to autoimmune diseases and food allergies. Furthermore, since the blood-brain barrier is not developed in newborns, toxins may enter the brain causing serious cognitive problems. Some healthcare practitioners and scientists are convinced that this is the apparent mechanism for autism.'