Autism – does inflammation play a role?

One of my patient’s moms, a well-researched, actively engaged parent with a high-functioning autistic son, asked my opinion regarding an article recently published via Autism Speaks that outlines the discovery of a functioning lymphatic network in the brain. The data was initially published in Nature online magazine June 1st of this year and confers additional support to a growing body of evidence supporting the role of inflammation in both brain and body dysfunction.

Autism, essentially defined as a neurologic disorder manifesting in disordered communicative abilities and restricted interests, has long been thought to be due to an interplay of both genetics and environment. In my own practice, I have observed a multitude of presentations– from kids with altered parental/peer interaction that initially appeared more anxious or conduct disordered, to children presenting with classic signs – poor eye contact, little or no speech, excessive…

The Zika Virus – UPDATE

I’m definitely not an alarmist! I traveled with my own children in the early months of their lives, often to relatively remote locales with minimal resources at hand. I have, like many of my patient families, tried to be prepared while traveling, but never neurotic about travel in general. I want to see the world with my children, not in their absence. But just as we would avoid a war-torn region, disease risk at your travel destination needs to be considered.

Unfortunately, the Zika virus warrants our attention and if you are pregnant, perhaps a change to your travel itinerary. This virus is transmitted via mosquitos and generally results in a relatively mild syndrome – often just a fever, muscle aches, red eyes and a rash. There is no treatment, but as it is self-limited and sometimes subclinical, people often fail to realize they have been infected. However, in a pregnant woman, the fetus too can be affected and resultant brain …

The Flu shot made me sick!

Just yesterday, a friend engaged in casual conversation by asking if I was seeing the Flu yet in my office. “Only one confirmed case so far”, I told her. “Well, a few of my friends got the flu after getting the shot this year” she remarked. She anticipated my response – “You can’t get the flu from the flu vaccine!” Year after year, I hear the same comment- from friends, patient parents, acquaintances, the FOX news network (j). What is happening in these cases? Are people really suffering a side effect of the vaccine itself? The influenza vaccine, like all other vaccines, does incite an antibody response. In fact, its effectiveness lies in its ability to stimulate the immune system to produce disease fighting agents that well, may make you feel a little under the weather for a day or two. Low grade fevers, a few muscle aches and some fatigue are normal and fleeting, and honestly a heck of a lot more tolerable than influenza. But what about…