Autism is Often an Autoimmune Brain Disorder

Dr. Richard Herbold of Clifton Park, NY: Autoimmune disease can raise risk of giving birth to child with autism

The rate of autism spectrum disorders (ASD) has increased 78 percent in the last decade, with autism now affecting a staggering 1 in 88 children. While parents scramble for answers, researchers increasingly find a common denominator: inflammation affecting brain function.

While some children withstand the assaults of modern life relatively unscathed, the child with autism has neurologically-based reactions to foods, vaccines, viruses, environmental chemicals, or other immune triggers. Some studies show this imbalance in immune function can begin in the womb, often influenced by the mother’s health. The question, of course, is why.

Children born to moms with autoimmune disease more likely to develop autism

For starters, recent studies show that autoimmune diseases run in families, and children born to mothers with autoimmune diseases, such as celiac disease, type 1 diabetes, or rheumatoid arthritis, are three times more likely to be born with autism. Researchers say the mother’s circulating autoimmune antibodies may create an abnormal immune environment that can affect the developing fetus.

Maternal obesity and diabetes raise autism risk

An autoimmune disease isn’t the only risk. Any kind of maternal immune imbalance can affect the immune health of the fetus. For instance, women who are obese are 67 percent more likely to have a child with autism. Women with diabetes are also more likely to give birth to a child with autism. Both obesity and diabetes keep the body in a state of chronic inflammation, which can affect the immune health of the developing fetus.

Leaky gut and fetal immune health

Another risk factor that can pass to the fetus is intestinal permeability, commonly referred to as leaky gut. Excess sugars and starches in the diet (i.e., gluten and junk foods) along with chronic stress can inflame the gut and cause the intestinal lining to become porous, or leaky. Because some 80 percent of the body’s immune system resides in the gut, a leaky gut triggers a cascade of inflammation that extends beyond the gut and into the brain and body, including the placenta of a pregnant woman.

Damaged gut walls will allow undigested foods, bacteria, and other pathogens to escape from the intestines into the bloodstream. These circulating pathogens affect the fetus by stimulating an immune response that may affect the development of the fetal brain.

Managing autism and autoimmune disease in Clifton Park, NY

As a clinical nutritionist and chiropractic neurologist, I see many female patients with autoimmune disease and children with autism in my Clifton Park, NY office. I see patients from Guilderland, Loudonville, Delmar, Colonie, and other areas of the Capital District. Managing autoimmune diseases such Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism, celiac disease, type 1 diabetes, or rheumatoid arthritis is multi-faceted. Gluten intolerance, diet, inflammation, hormone balance, and more all play roles in immune health and in lowering the risk of giving birth to a child with autism.

Immune health affects the developing brain

Since we know the immune system affects the developing brain of the fetus, it’s important to approach conception and pregnancy with immune health in mind. This will not only reduce the risk of autism but also make the child less susceptible to other immune disorders, including asthma, eczema, food intolerances, allergies, and other brain developmental disorders (e.g., Tourette syndrome, obsessive-compulsive disorder, depression, ADD/ADHD, etc.)

You don’t HAVE an immune system; you ARE an immune system

Regulating immune health requires a whole-body approach that addresses diet, adrenal health, hormone health, gut health, food intolerances, and the autoimmunity of both parents—though the mother in particular. An anti-inflammatory diet is foundational to a healthy immune system. Studies have shown the effectiveness of a gluten-free and dairy-free diet or, more ideally, the immune balancing autoimmune diet. Not surprisingly, many children see symptoms of autism resolve through a similar whole-body approach.

Of course, most children born to a parent with an autoimmune disease do not get autism, however properly managing an autoimmune disease not only reduces the risk of autism, but also makes the pregnancy and postpartum period easier and more enjoyable.

Functional medicine for autoimmune disease and autism

In my office in the Albany, NY, area, we will look at underlying causes that contribute to your autoimmune disease or your child’s autism spectrum disorder. These include working to restore immune balance, addressing the influence of diet on well being, restoring gut health, balancing stress and hormonal health, and even looking at the role brain function plays in your condition.

For more information on natural healing, and for help managing your autoimmune condition or your child’s autism spectrum disorder, please contact Dr. Richard Herbold of Capital District Vitality Center, serving Guilderland, Loudonville, Delmar, Colonie, and other areas of the Capital District, NY.

You can have better thyroid health! Supporting immune and brain health

  • Removing dietary stressors: sugars, caffeine, junk foods, excess carbs, and food intolerances
  • Addressing any lingering health imbalances: hormonal, immune system, or gut
  • Exercising regularly, but not over exercising
  • Working with your practitioner to use customized nutritional therapy to support your health

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9:00am - 5:00pm
Tuesday
2:00pm - 5:30pm
Wednesday
9:00am - 5:00pm
Thursday
2:00pm - 5:30pm
Friday
8:30am - 12:00pm

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Patient Reviews

  • Richard Herbold is topnotch, and has helped me over several decades! A gifted healer might be a rarity. I have always felt privileged to receive his adjustments to target whatever is blocked or out of place. Immediate relief is always noted....
  • Long story short, after a year and a half of countless doctor visits to try to figure out what was wrong with me (couldn’t move my joints, extreme pain and swelling, ect….) I was told I had RA and would be on methotrexate for the rest of my life. I went to Dr. Herbold to get his opinion. Wit...
  • A year ago today a very itchy/stingy patch appeared on my upper arm near my armpit. Over a two week period the ‘rash’ crept to my other arm and to my chest and my back, and was absolutely unbearable by mid-December. I went to my GP – desperate for a diagnosis and treatment. I noted to ...
  • When I wrote previously, I was beginning a 24 session program of trigenics….combined with three additional therapies twice weekly. At the time, I was experiencing extreme exhaustion when completing the smallest of tasks…due to spinal stenosis and numbing. I was having back pains, shoulder is...
  • When I first came in, I had to walk with a cane, or a walker because I was so off-balance. My feet were so numb. And my legs always felt dead or heavy. As I started going through the treatments, a lot of my feeling started coming back. Where before I couldn’t bend my toes, lift my leg, climb stair...
  • I have been a patient of Dr. Herbold’s for many years now and have always been impressed with the professionalism and compassion of the office staff that never waivers. They try to accommodate their patients’ schedules and needs, going the extra mile. Also, Dr. Herbold listens to his patient...
  • Thorough, knowledgeable, professional, personable. I had a very top notch experience here for my first appointment. The fifth star in the rating will be earned by results which I am confident will come. What a refreshing experience to spend time with a fellow practitioner who thinks outside the box as I...
  • Dr. Herbold is helping me with my weight, which has not budged in spite of being a nutritionist myself. His blend of scientific knowledge, clinical experience so he can sense exactly what the next steps are, compassion and humor are helping me. At last, someone who can heal this healer (me)!...
  • Dr. Herbold and Beth are great! They are very knowledgeable, helpful and responsive to both my son and I. Our experience with using their Neurofeedback system has been very good. I am most appreciative of Dr. Herbold’s holistic approach on the importance of nutrition, exercise, etc. as part of our...
  • I have known Dr. Herbold for 11 years now. He is a wonderful doctor, a trusted confidant, and a wonderful human being. He has helped me and my family many many times with health related needs. Dr. Herbold is very compassionate — a great teacher and mentor. We are so fortunate to have someone of hi...

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