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…