By Dr. Elizabeth Mumper – TACA Physician Advisory Board Member
Emerging research over the past several decades has identified that some combinations of genetic and environmental factors, depending on timing, might create a “perfect storm” for the development of autism. This retrospective clinical study looks at a cohort in the general pediatrics practice of the former medical director of the Autism Research Institute, in which there have been no known new cases of autism since 2000 (1.) This paper is intended to be hypothesis generating and prompt prospective research. It should not be over-interpreted since it has clear limitations.
When we talk about preventing autism, we are not talking about preventing the type of autism in which people are healthy and intelligent but quirky, innovative, artistic or creative with amazing savant skills. We hope to prevent some cases of the types of autism associated with inflammatory bowel disease, immune dysregulation, mitochondrial dysfunction, and metabolic abnormalities in which the children and families suffer.
As our paper went to press, we became worried about one eighteen month old in our practice who exhibits some autistic features but has only been diagnosed with language delay so far. In the cohort we examined, we would have expected about 6 new cases of autism based on the background prevalence. There is a 1.4% chance that our zero new cases would have occurred by chance alone.
Did our practices and strategies make a difference for a small group of patients? Only time (and replication studies) will tell.
Elizabeth Mumper, MD Founder, Rimland Center
Dr Elizabeth Mumper biography https://www.tacanow.org/about-taca/physician-advisory-board/