03 October 2010

Autism as a "whole-body disorder" with Gerri Brewster, RD

Autism is a "whole body" neurological disorder with defining criteria that has only been generally accepted since 1994, after Dr. Kanner described it in 1943.

There are a total of 12 defining characteristics in early childhood, which include lack of responsiveness, gross deficits in language, etc.

The prevalence of autism diagnosis is growing fast -- with rates rising 273 percent from 1987-98.

Today, I'm live-blogging at University of Bridgeport while listening to Gerri Brewster, RD, talking about the disorder and what approaches nutritionists can take with these special-needs children.

This is Part 1 of a seminar at the university on Autistic Spectrum Disorders (ASD).

She says that there is a lot of speculation for why autism on the rise, with many discussing possible causes:

- toxins in the environment
- nutritiion deterioration
- vaccines increasing
- problems with detoxification

What Brewster sees every day are children with gut issues, asthma, and food allergies, along with parents who have stories related to vaccine trauma, medication trauma, toxin exposures, or poor diet histories.

She points out EWG's work showing umbilical cord having 287 chemicals. Many of these are toxic to the brain and nervous system. Is there a correlation?

Or, could it have to do with the fact that women are having children in older age. We have to wonder if these toxins accumulate and end up in their babies' bodies.

"That's why I say that having a baby is one of the ways to detox because a lot of those toxins" are being transferred to the baby.

She says, the parents are "always hoping that their babies will outgrow all of this, which unfortunately" is not always the case.

"As a nutritionist, my role is to clean up the diet first and foremost. Then, heal the gut and support the detox pathways," she says.

Now, there's no statistically significance of the amount of GI issues in children with autism (77 percent) compared to those without autism (72 percent).

However, according to Brewster, what we need to question is why 72 to 77 percent of children are having GI issues in the first place?

Also, could there be correlations between autism and certain toxins like PPA (a preservative that crosses the blood-brain barrier)?

What about genetics, shares Brewster? There's no argument that autism is rising, but the CDC offers no explanation, except that genetic variations simply predispose for greater or lesser risk.

She then went on to show slides about the cycle of compromised immunity.

Previously, she shares, there has been research on children with autism and impaired detox pathways.

Now she's starting to get a little passionate in trying to convince us all that although there's controversy, we need to be open-minded to the anectodal evidence that nutritionists can share about relationship to diet.

She starts talking about "dysbiosis" and "leaky gut" and other stuff. Is there a connection with autistic spectrum disorders?

It's worth looking at the gut. Is there constipation? Can a "little change" like diet and regularity have an effect?

Once we (as nutritionists) fix maldigestion, malabsorption, dysbiosis, and inflammation in the gut ("the fire within"), we're helping to heal the child.


I have to admit I raised my eyebrows a lot during this talk, but what the hell do I know?

How is the gut related to a neurological disease?

What toxins are coming out in detox? What do you mean by detox? Psyllium hulls? Milk thistle? for children?

What's the connection to probiotics?

Still, despite the weaknesses in the argument for diet's relationship to autism, I can understand parents' needs to do everything they can to help their children.

This was just Part 1 of this seminar. Maybe I will have more answers in Part 2.

Location:Linden Ave,Bridgeport,United States

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