Annotations posted for the important NYT article

Moises Velasquez-Manoff, the author of last Sunday’s NYT article on immune-autism connections has just posted a list of references that he used to put the article together. I think he does a good job in citing relevant work. Of course, I’m biased. As he says in his post: “I would also suggest people read Paul Patterson’s book Infectious Behavior. He’s the scientist who pioneered much of the prenatal immune / infection research. My entire op-ed more-or-less appears in his book, although he doesn’t emphasize the hygiene hypothesis to the degree I did.”

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7 Responses to Annotations posted for the important NYT article

  1. Laura Weinert says:

    A re-iteration of that article is now circulating on Yahoo, titled “Can You Prevent Autism,” and contains striking additional information that the Moises’ piece did not. This version suggests that a pregnant woman’s immune response to a vaccine could also cause autism. Is this true? What is the evidence?

    Here is the quote I refer to:
    “The story is a science-writer’s synthesis (informed by a wide and reputable body of science) but has far-reaching implications for all pregnant women. Most surprisingly, it includes a twist on the autism-and-vaccines story, which is that the mother being vaccinated, even for common things like the flu, could be a risk factor for autism.”
    Source:
    http://shine.yahoo.com/parenting/prevent-autism-160900764.html

    • phpatterson says:

      Good point Laura; I’m surprised that others have not picked up on that. For a more serious discussion of this issue, please see Chap 8 of my book. In short, there is no evidence that maternal vaccination is a risk factor for autism in the offspring. The CDC strongly advocates for vaccinating during pregnancy in flu season if the woman has not previously been vaccinated during that year. (Because the flu virus changes every year, a new vaccination is required each year) The CDC recommendation is based on the uncontested fact that it is bad to get a serious influenza infection during pregnancy. Moreover, they cite previous studies showing that maternal vaccination is safe for the offspring – although autism (or schizophrenia) was not tested as an outcome measure. However, authors from the Canadian CDC concluded in a review of the literature a couple of years ago that we don’t have enough knowledge to be sure that maternal vaccination is safe or even efficacious, especially if it is done during the first trimester. In our mouse model, we found that activating the mother’s immune system, in the absence of infection or a pathogen, was sufficient to lead to offspring with behaviors and neuropathology consistent with that seen in autism and schizophrenia. Of course, this is relevant because vaccination activates the immune system. However, I must add that we were never able to raise the funds to actually test whether vaccination of pregnant mice can lead to autism-like behaviors in the offspring. Whatever one thinks about maternal vaccination, common sense precautions can certainly be taken during pregnancy to avoid infections of various types. These are described in Chap. 8. I hope this helps, PHP

      • Laura Weinert says:

        Thank you so much for your answer. I wonder if you have seen any of these studies linking vitamin D deficiency and autism. Placed in the context of your study, I wonder if that might possibly have to do with vitamin D’s anti-inflammatory properties? It sure would be wonderful to find a way to prevent/protect oneself during pregnancy against the inflammation that seems to be linked to autism. Do you know of any studies that have been done on this front?
        All best,
        Laura

        • phpatterson says:

          Good point Laura! We’ve been discussing vit D in the lab a lot lately, and wondering if we should test it in our mouse model. There is evidence that vit D deficiency is correlated with both schizophrenia and autism, and some of these symptoms can be found in vit D deficient rats. It also seems clear that the standard for sufficient vit D in the diet is currently too low. If I have time, I’ll see if I can write a post about this. Thx, PHP

  2. Pingback: Moises Velasquez-Manoff » Follow-up Yahoo article on autism piece

  3. Eva Vanamee says:

    Dr Patterson, Can you post the link to the Canadian flu study? Thank you!

    I would like to point out that the flu vaccine still can contain mercury in the form of thimerosal.
    Mercury is a known neurotoxin and strong immune stimulator. Every pregnant woman who decides to get a flu vaccine should ask for a thimerosal-free version. Also, pregnant women should consult their doctor first about any immunization, especially if they have a history of autoimmune diseases and get their vaccine from their doctor and not at a drug store or airport where documentations might be lacking.

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