Autism and Antibiotics

Hello everyone! Since the last time I sent out a newsletter, some very exciting things have happened. Our family welcomed Dr. Zev Myerowitz Jr. into the Chiropractic fold when he graduated from New York Chiropractic College this past December. He just opened a practice in Cape Elizabeth, Maine with Amber Smalley, LAc. We wish him the best in helping his patients to get well, stay well, and realize their true health potential!

On another fun note, our family is right around 100 years of combined clinical practice. Granted, the vast majority of these years are attributed to Drs. Moshe and Zev Myerowitz Sr. (62 and 34 years respectively), but I’ll throw my 3 years and Dr. Ben’s first year into the mix. I’m still narrowing down what time of the year Drs. Moshe and Zev started so we can get an exact date, but it seems like sometime in June/July was a good bet.

Now, let’s move on to something a bit more serious. I’m always on the lookout for fun topics to cover in the newsletters. We’ve discussed in a previous edition the effects of heavy metals and immune system overstimulation and the roles they play in autism spectrum disorders. While I was on a trip to visit the in-laws, I turned the TV onto the Canadian Broadcast Chanel and to my delight they were airing a special on autism. The special discussed an idea that has been slowly gaining traction in the scientific community, albeit alarmingly slow. Antibiotics can cause autism spectrum disorders.

Now let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Nothing has been proven at this point, but the research is getting rather compelling. The main issue that I currently have with the autism debate is that everyone is looking for a single smoking gun; the one vaccine, the one ingredient, or the one gene that causes the disorder. No one seems to be willing to put everything together to examine the cumulative toxin load on a child’s body. This special profiled a woman whose child became severely autistic following 6 courses of antibiotics for ear infections (also covered in a previous newsletter). Around the same time, she noticed extreme changes in her son’s bowel movements, which became especially fowl and putrid smelling, frothy, and full of mucous. After writing dozens of letters pleading specialists to entertain the notion of a connection between her son’s autism diagnosis and the antibiotics, she was helped by a gastroenterologist that was willing to do a stool culture for the bacterial flora of her son’s gut. The results were astounding.

Her son’s normal bacterial gut flora had been destroyed. Almost all beneficial strains had been wiped out and all that remained were high concentrations of Clostridium strains. Alarmingly, this isn’t as rare as you’d expect. One study that aimed to determine the differences between the gut flora of autistic and non-autistic children found 9 species of clostridium in the autistic children not found in the control group.[i] These are very pathogenic bacteria (responsible for tetanus and botulism) and mainly thrive in anaerobic environments (no oxygen). They are quite resistant to antibiotics, and require vancomycin to be even partially destroyed. They are controlled in a healthy individual by the beneficial bacteria that surrounds them.

After culturing the dominant strains from his stool, the researchers found that one strain in particular produced a potent neurotoxin. This neurotoxin was then injected into rats, and the behavior observed in the rats was almost identical to the behavioral changes seen in autistic children. The good news? The body can clear the toxin so its effects are temporary, and the rats returned to normal function after about an hour or so. His body was being constantly exposed to a neurotoxin created in his intestines and absorbed directly into his blood stream.

Her son was then treated using vancomycin in an attempt to kill the clostridium bacterial strains. His behavior rapidly changed as he became much more social and, although about 5 years old by then, began to use language. However, his autism spectrum symptoms returned when the vancomycin was discontinued. Clostridium bacteria can protect themselves by going into a spore form, in which they can “hibernate” like a seed until conditions become more favorable. Due to his regression, research stalled dramatically as the treatment was not deemed a viable treatment and therefore not worth the expense of continuing research.

Use of a broad-spectrum oral antibiotic will dramatically affect the population of beneficial bacteria systemically. This allows for unchecked growth of pathological bacteria (leading to recurring infections), severe complications in children’s digestive health, and perhaps even neurologic symptoms.

Now, why am I writing this newsletter? This boy’s story began when he was prescribed heavy doses of antibiotics for ear infections, although all of the current literature shows little to no benefit in doing so. Given that approximately 10 million antibiotic prescriptions are written each year improperly, how much unnecessary damage is being done? How many children have stories similar to this little boy?

I’ve had great success in my practice treating children with chronic ear infections utilizing the specific Chiropractic adjustment and elimination diets. Beneath the symptom lies the cause, and that cause no drug can reach. The infection is the symptom, and it’s our job to find the cause.

Is the rampant over prescription of antibiotics for ear infections a factor in the increasing rates of Autism? The jury is still out, but the research shows there can be a near direct causal link. If your or a loved one’s child is battling chronic ear infections, give Chiropractic a shot.

Have a great summer!

Daniel J. Myerowitz D.C., Dipl. Ac. (AACA)
Myerowitz Chiropractic & Acupuncture Clinic
291 Main Road
Holden, ME 04429
207-989-0000

[i] Finegold SM, et. al. Gastrointestinal Microflora Studies in Late-Onset Autism. Clin. Inf. Dis. 35:S6-S16

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