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…

Can Vitamin D Improve Autism Symptoms?

Vitamin D is essential- it plays a critical role in everything from bone strength and growth, to immune system function and cardiovascular health. Until recently, the merits of Vitamin D were poorly recognized and at least in pediatrics, levels were infrequently checked. Now, when I am drawing labs for concerns of hyperlipidemia or short stature, chronic fatigue, anxiety or almost anything really, I add a Vitamin D level – because without fail, the levels are always low. It seems counterintuitive, that in our mild climate with sunny skies that anyone would have sub-therapeutic levels, but since vitamin D is relatively sparse in our edible diet and skin synthesis of the vitamin requires ultraviolet light – it is the norm to see serum concentrations below 30.

I came across an interesting case report yesterday at work that was published in the journal Pediatrics (Volume 135, number 1, January 2015) that noted that lower concentrati…

Let’s Talk Measles

In medical school, I was taught how to recognize a viral illness essentially eradicated in the United States. The three “C”s – cough, coryza (inflamed and runny nose) and conjunctivitis – should make you think of measles. If this triad of symptoms is present, check the mouth for Koplik spots (small white spots on a reddened background on the inside of the cheeks) often presenting before the tell-tale maculopapular rash that starts on the head and works its way down the body to the lower extremities. This is the text-book presentation, which is all I have to go off of – as I have never seen a case of measles, despite being in hospital and outpatient clinical settings since 2000.

Over the last couple weeks, I have had parents ask me if measles is really that dangerous. Is it similar to the viruses we see regularly, like Roseola, the Flu and Hand Foot and Mouth disease? The answer is, of course, yes and no. In many affected persons it causes a week of miserable symptom…