Another April, another National Autism Awareness Month. The statistics, of course, are appalling. The CDC states that about 1 in 68 children has been identified with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), according to estimates from CDC’s Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network. ASD occurs in all racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic groups, and is about 4.5 times more common among boys (1 in 42) than among girls (1 in 189). Consider that this incidence rate has more than doubled since 2000.
In previous articles, we have dealt with the disconnect between what Dr. Leo Kanner—who first described the disorder in 1943—and what now constitutes the diagnostic criteria for the condition. Kanner’s landmark paper, entitled “Autistic Disturbances of Affective Contact,” published in Nervous Child, is both widely cited and assiduously ignored.
Fearless contrarian and pioneering pediatrician Michael J. Goldberg MD has long railed against the conventional approach to autism—and has cured many of these kids. As he says…
“These children present with multiple symptoms that we were trained were medical, but somehow we’re writing it all off as ‘autism’ and ‘psychological.’ It’s impossible for a developmental or genetic disorder to ever become an epidemic, and yet we are condemning these parents and children to no future. I have essentially watched families go to experts around the country, go to leaders around the country, and realize that those experts, those leaders have completely turned their back on these families. They are desperate, they need help, and that’s supposed to be our job as pediatricians.”
“If you throw out autism, then you suddenly realize we have a massive medical epidemic affecting the brains and bodies of these children. It is time we recognize that these children are ill, and have autistic-like symptoms, but do not have autism.”
Which brings us to the human herpesviruses known as CMV (Cytomegalovirus) and HHV-6 (Human herpesvirus 6).
According to learned sources, CMV is ubiquitous and generally asymptomatic in healthy children and adults. Yet, it is also a major cause of morbidity and occasional mortality in newborn infants. Moreover, CMV has been identified as the most important cause of congenital infection in the developed world, that frequently leads to mental retardation and developmental disability.
If this weren’t bad enough, a body of evidence links CMV to a number of adult health problems, including immunosenescence (the age-dependent decrease in immunological competence) and an increased risk of malignancy and vascular disease. As with all human herpesviruses, they establish life-long latency and can become reactivated later in life.
HHV-6, which infects nearly 100% of human beings, typically before the age of three, is another potential baddie—associated with a shocking number of illnesses. We’re talking Hodgkin’s lymphoma, cervical cancer, chronic fatigue syndrome, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, and myocarditis, among many others.
Listen to Dr. Goldberg:
“I was taught as a pediatrician, that when a baby is born severely brain damaged, CMV was one of the organisms you must look for, and rule out. Imagine my shock when I discovered that up to 1.5% of newborns have CMV—yet explained away as ‘asymptomatic’.”
He further notes that HHV-6 should become inactive and in theory not harmful. But, should it become chronically activated via a stressed immune system, it is known to cause chronic dysfunction and harm over time.
As such, Goldberg asks the medical establishment: Why not acknowledge that the evidence of activated viruses in ASD children is not normal, but rather is consistent with, and is a reflection of, their stressed immune systems? If so, ASD becomes a medical condition (phenotype) and not DSM autism!
Autism April—a bit more, April 10, 2017
Last week’s article generated a fair amount of e-mail—including some pointed questions from my friend Josh Bloom, of the American Council on Science and Health. Most of the questions and comments referred to the remarks and links that featured Michael J. Goldberg, MD.
As such, it seems appropriate to present more of Goldberg’s ideas…
This one comes from April, 2016: As another Autism Awareness Month begins, sadly nothing has changed. Even the March, 2016 publication from the University of Rochester, entitled “The Brain’s Gardeners: Immune Cells ‘Prune’ Connections Between Neurons,” hardly struck a note in the research community. The paper suggests a link between autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and immune dysfunction, whereby the immune system is not correctly pruning the neurons in the brain.
He also laments that an article from 2004, entitled “Neuroglial Activation and Neuroinflammation in the Brain of Patients with Autism,” should have piqued the curiosity of any researcher with an open mind. After all, this work from Johns Hopkins discusses neuro-immune inflammation, and certainly suggests a reasonable etiology for at least some ASD kids.
Indeed, with an explanation for the findings of “too many neurons in the brain of autistic children” the research community still will not admit this is an autoimmune disease, with an autistic phenotype, and not the current psychiatric label of “Autism.”
When it comes to medical/disease origin, the idea of phenotypes is a major clinical reality. A phenotype is a collection of symptoms that reflects how a disease presents, but doesn’t tell you the cause of the disease. For example, a specific group of signs and symptoms presents as “meningitis,” but that doesn’t tell a physician whether it is bacterial, viral, fungal, protozoan, TB, or other.
The 1:68 children are presenting with a phenotype of Autistic / ASD symptoms. But conventional medicine is making the mistaken assumption that the 1:68 phenotypes are all developmental, psychological, genetic, etc. As Goldberg has emphasized, one cannot have an epidemic of a genetic or developmental disorder. He observes: “Science doesn’t change; it can be ignored, or twisted to fit a popular mindset, but it doesn’t change.”
In his blog postings from last year, he reacted to comments from parents of ASD kids (with proper HIPAA-compliant redaction), who described their generally affectionate children, with few motor issues…
Dr. Leo Kanner, who first described infantile autism, stated that the children were never normal, never affectionate, and never had major motor issues. You are all subjected to a new set of subjective criteria to label your children as “Autistic” even though what is being described has nothing to do with the ideas of Dr. Kanner and other psychiatric experts of the 40s, 50s, and 60s.
Goldberg continues: As I was taught in medical school and confirmed at a medical symposium nearly twenty years ago, short of a known, definable degenerative disease, no child can develop normally until 12, 15, 18 months old, have language, lose it, then on good testing show up like a 10-month-old!
A child that has already developed normally past age 15 or 18 months old, cannot exhibit the dysfunctions above, with no objective findings on MRI, EEG, etc., unless a neuro-immune or neuro-infectious disease process is occurring. To keep thinking that the dysfunctions of these children are mental or developmental is beyond comprehension.
The gauntlet thrown down, how will mainstream medicine respond?