Autism and allergies

August 13, 2018 by drlindenberg

Neurodevelopmental problems can turn the life of a parent and that of the child into an ongoing trauma. Autism can be isolating because it impairs the child’s ability to communicate and, consequently, to function effectively in any social situation. This results in distress for the parent, the child, and for others involved in interactions with the sufferer.

So much is known about the restrictive symptoms of the autism spectrum (ASD), the causes of which are regarded as partly genetic, yet insufficient focus is placed on an investigation as to whether the patient can be helped by a change in diet or the avoidance of allergy-triggering elements in the wider environment. In many cases the removal of substances thought to cause allergic reactions or inflammation in a child’s system, has resulted in dramatic improvements in the severity of the ASD symptoms suffered.

Allergies are an inflammatory response of the immune system. Being aware at an early stage of allergy signs and symptoms can help parents to offer much-needed relief, especially as many autistic children have overactive immune systems or are prone to an imbalance of pro and anti-inflammatory signals.

Allergic responses

According to Dr. Wei Bao, an assistant professor in the epidemiology department at the University of Iowa, “immunologic disruptions may have processes beginning early in life, which then influence brain development and social functioning, leading to the development of ASD.” Thomas Frazier, PhD, chief science officer for Autism Speaks, agrees that research findings relate the immune system to autism, and that appropriate evaluation for allergies, with subsequent ongoing treatment, should be undertaken.

All the commonly known causes of allergic reactions, like dairy products, breads, cereals and pasta, should be avoided, as well as the thousands of processed foods containing ingredients made from gluten or casein. In addition, a daily multi-vitamin supplement, vitamin B6 and magnesium combined therapy, DMG (Dimethyglycine) and essential fatty acids (Omega 3), are widely accepted and supported for sufferers with ASD, according to IAN (Interactive Autism Network). High doses of probiotics and elimination of sugar from the diet often results in enhanced wellbeing.

Biomedical Testing

Biomedical is the term defining matters that relate both to biology and medicine. Biomedical testing begins by acquiring a comprehensive understanding of the family and child health history. Because each one of us has unique biochemistry and physiology, it is vital that individualized testing and treatment, based not on the majority of autistic children, but on each individual patient, be undertaken. Weaknesses that affect that particular sufferer, can then be corrected.

Frequently recommended tests

  • IgG Food Allergy – this test identifies food sensitivity
  • Organic acid testing – this includes 65 different tests to establish underlying weaknesses in the child’s biochemistry or physiology
  • Metabolic Screen – this supplies markers of mitochondrial dysfunction
  • Amino acids
  • Liver enzymes and kidney function
  • Vitamin A and D
  • Comprehensive digestive stool analysis – these tests identify yeast, parasites, strep overgrowth, digestive enzyme function, and also test for beneficial bacteria
  • Complete blood count
  • Urinary peptides – these will confirm inadequate breakdown of gliadin and casein
  • Methylmalonic Acid (MMA) – this tests for intracellular B12 deficiency
  • Serum B12 – this is often high in children with ASD
  • Ferritin and iron levels
  • Thyroid function, including antibodies
  • Plasma zinc and serum copper
  • Cholesterol and fatty acids
  • Red blood sel minerals
  • Red blood sel fatty acids
  • Glutathione assessment – this is to ascertain whether the body’s main detoxifier and antioxidant is malfunctioning
  • Heavy metal assessment – this is gained from the stool, blood, urine or hair

An understanding of disordered methylation and what compromises the cycle (dependent on B- vitamins to provide proper cellular function), can help parents immensely: methylation supplements can prevent cellular dysfunction, as well as improve the wellbeing of an autistic individual.

It is natural for any parent to want added comfort for their child; for those with ASD, this is an urgent issue. Considering that an investigation into possible dietary and environmental causes for distress could not only improve the ASD child’s general health, wellbeing, and sense of comfort, but also serve to soften the behavioural symptoms that cause unhappiness and social isolation, it seems shortsighted for parents not to investigate this avenue. The findings can only be substantially beneficial, both physically and psychologically.

Every single individual familiar with allergic reactions will vouch that the levels of physical discomfort caused have a negative psychological impact, contributing to feelings of helplessness, anxiety and depression. For autistic individuals who are unable to express the trials, trauma and continual strain of their condition, a thorough investigation into allergy-causing substances seems not only advisable, but imperative. It allows the autistic child a voice.


Dr Louise Lindenberg runs an integrative medical practice in Durbanville, Cape Town. She incorporates dietary intervention, supplementation, nutrition, phytotherapy/herbal medicine, and allopathic medicine in a holistic health care environment. Her passion is working with children on the Autistic Spectrum, including Autism, PDD, ADD, ADHD and behavioural problems.

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