Autism as a Neural Development Disorder

Autism is classified as a disorder of neural development and exists as part of a wider “Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)” of non-specific and overlapping neurological development conditions. It is equally common in all races and all nationalities, though it is three to four times more common in boys than in girls. Autism is generally characterized by impaired social interaction skills and awareness, communication difficulties and mood alterations including repetitive behaviors.  Those afflicted may have metabolic and digestive issues as well. The Autism Spectrum Disorder represents a much wider range of conditions varying in severity and presentation, characterized by social and communication deficits, repetitive behavior patterns, and may include sensory issues and cognitive delays.  These symptoms usually present within the first two years of childhood as the disorder interferes with the natural development of information processing skills within the developing brain and altering how nerve cells organize and associate. In a few cases, children may pass through the normal milestones of development before their development stalls and show signs of regression.

What Causes These Disorders?

After a diagnosis is made, one of the most common questions practitioners find themselves asking is, “what caused this disorder, and was there anything that could have prevented it?”  Extensive research into autism and neural development disorders has shown that there is no single preventable cause.  Autism has been shown to develop from a combination of possible genetic and non-genetic, environmental and metabolic influences.  These factors only appear to increase the risk that a child will develop autism.  Let’s not forget that risk is not synonymous with cause, and a correlation does not imply a causal relationship in this case.

Genetic Factors

For instance, certain gene alterations associated with ASD are also found in people who exhibit none of the symptoms or behavioral changes of the disorder class. Although research points to the fact that autism genes tend to run in families, these gene changes (passed to the child from one parent even if that parent is not autistic) simply increases the child’s chances of being diagnosed.  The majority of gene changes associated with autism do not cause autism by themselves. Furthermore, autism is more common in children born to older parents.  This does imply that genetic mutations and aberrations, which increase with age- especially in the germ cells in the gonads, are passed to the offspring.

Environmental Factors

Individuals who are exposed to an environmental risk factor for autism do not automatically develop the disorder; in fact, most of them do not.  Factors found to increased risk are advanced age in either parent at the time of conception, pregnancies spaced less than one year apart, extreme prematurity (prior to 26 weeks), and low birth weight.  One factor possibly associated with a decreased risk is prenatal vitamins containing folic acid when taken before conception and throughout pregnancy.  By now, it should come as no surprise that vaccines have been scientifically-proven NOT to be a risk factor.  Oftentimes, the timing of diagnosis and the emergence of observable symptoms and deficits corresponds with the timing of a child’s necessary vaccinations.  However, over two decades of dedicated research has proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that vaccines do not cause autism.

Other Possible Causes

Oxidative stress and synaptic abnormalities have been proposed as possible causes, and there is plenty of circumstantial evidence for them. Certain foods, like members of the brassica (cabbage) family, especially, cauliflower, broccoli, and sprouts, with their high sulforaphane content, have been shown to benefit the symptoms of and signs of ASD. Equally fascinating is the discovery that any febrile illness that raises the temperature of the child, improves the symptoms and signs of ASD, during the temperature elevation period!

Understanding Leads to Treatment

The majority of these genetic and non-genetic factors affect fundamental aspects of early brain development.  Some influence how neurons communicate or fail to communicate within the brain.  Others affect how entire regions of the brain communicate.  As research continues to study the conditions in the Autism Spectrum Disorder, greater understanding is leading to better treatment options.  Treatment currently falls into two major categories.  On one hand, educational interventions offer individual social support and behavioral support to help with social interaction and awareness of behavioral cues.  Medication management helps control symptoms and undesirable behaviors and serves to augment the social support aspect. In many cases, psychoactive drugs are prescribed, with anticonvulsants to control their side effects. Despite the fact that medication has been the “go to” treatment for Autism, this becomes problematic due to the reality that children tend to respond atypically to strong psychoactive chemicals designed for adults and the medications have adverse effects requiring further pharmaceutical intervention.  Furthermore, there is no medication currently that fully relieves symptoms or comes close to addressing the root cause of the disorder itself.

What about Stem Cells?

For a refresher on what constitutes stem cell therapy and the safe and painless way they are collected and administered, please refer to our veritable library of blogs on a variety of topics related to stem cells and the conditions we treat.  Suffice it to say, stem cells are a “skeleton key” of genetic goodness that we have used with great success in suitable patients to improve their quality of life, on the Gulf Coast and throughout the country.  Although great strides have been made in autism research and management development, there is a lot of work left to be done.  As a proud partner of the Cell Surgery Network, we hope to continue this valuable work and aid in researching the vital link between stem cells and autism management.  Stem Cell therapy could prove to be an effective approach to treating autism based upon the unique ability of stem cells to influence metabolism, restore health to damaged cells and tissues, and effect immunomodulation inherent in autologous stem cells.  Previous studies into the management of brain-related conditions with stem cells have shown great promise.  In fact, stem cell therapy has been shown to positively affect all parts of the body, to varying degrees, including the brain.  In the case of autistic individuals, areas of the brain which affect memory, speech, concentration, and attention are damaged, underdeveloped or misdeveloped.  Stem cell therapies have been used to bring about positive outcomes in conditions ranging from diabetes and kidney failure to hair loss.  Now researchers believe that stem cells show great promise for helping not only diminish symptom presentation but possibly work to reverse existing damage.  For example, previous studies have shown that stem cells increase blood flow and oxygen delivery within the brain, helping reinvigorate or restore neurons, reroute neural pathways, and improve synaptic efficiency.  Stem cells also help the development of new arteries form in the brain.  Stem cells naturally acquire properties exhibited by surrounding cells over time, making them multipotent and able to replicate these surrounding cells.  What this means is increased grey and white matter restoration, leading to symptom reduction and improved intellectual potentiality.

Gulf Coast Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine Center

At Gulf Coast Stem Cell Regenerative Center, which is an affiliate partner of the Cell Surgical Network, we conduct patient-funded research with the intention of treating patients with their own autologous stem cells. We aid in the management of autoimmune, degenerative, inflammatory, and ischemic conditions, and our highly skilled team of providers is committed to the goal of alleviating symptoms, enhancing functionality, and improving overall quality-of-life for our patients.  Contact Gulf Coast Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine Center and let us show you what “Excellence with a Human Touch” means. For more information on the full list of diseases and disorders that we currently address, please call (866) 865-4823 or contact us via our website, today.

Download: GCSC July 2018 Are Stem Cells A Viable Therapeutic Option For Autism?