This blog is a way of sharing the information and resources that have helped me to recover my son Roo from an Autism Spectrum Disorder. What I have learned is to view our symptoms as the results of underlying biological cause, which can be identified and healed. I say "our symptoms" because I also have a neuro-immune disorder called Myalgic Encephalomyelitis.

And, of course, I am not a doctor (although I have been known to impersonate one while doing imaginative play with my son)- this is just our story and information that has been helpful or interesting to us. I hope it is helpful and interesting to you!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

New Discoveries Highlight How Little is Known of the Immune System

Much of what is called modern medicine is meant to interact with our immune system, and yet we know so little about how it works.  Antibiotics and vaccines have both been the mainstay of this, and while both have undoubtedly saved many lives (especially antibiotics), they have had unforeseen consequences.  Antibiotics alter the flora in our bodies, which account for 90% of the cells that make up our bodies, which can have profound implications for our long-term immune functioning. 

A new study, just published last month called Microbial Exposure During Early Life Has Persistent Effects on Natural Killer T Cell Function, shows how significant our early gut flora can be for our long-term immune function.  Antibiotics have become widely used during labor and the neonatal period.  No doubt this is necessary sometimes, but little concern is given for the possible long-term effects of this use and for the importance of taking protective measures.

"Colonization of neonatal—but not adult—GF (germ-free) mice with a conventional microbiota protected the animals from mucosal iNKT accumulation and related pathology. These results indicate that age-sensitive contact with commensal microbes is critical for establishing mucosal iNKT cell tolerance to later environmental exposures." 

Another study, also just published, challenges a long held belief that antibodies are both necessary and the most significant factor in immunity against viruses.  One of the cornerstones of the use of vaccines is that antibody levels (titers) are assumed to be both necessary for immunity and the most accurate measure of immune status.  From an article about the study in Science News:

"A new study turns the well established theory that antibodies are required for antiviral immunity upside down and reveals that an unexpected partnership between the specific and non-specific divisions of the immune system is critical for fighting some types of viral infections."