Friday, May 6, 2011

DAY 215 - Is a Bacterium Controlling Your Child’s Behavior?

This is not a joke.

Have you ever wondered at the bizarre, extreme, or antisocial behavior of your own child, or that of another? Did the child not seem like himself?

Last week I attended the 18th International Symposium on Functional Medicine. The topic was “The Challenge of Emerging Infections in the 21st Century. Derrick F. MacFabe M.D., Assistant Professor in the Departments of Psychology and Psychiatry (Division of Developmental Disabilities) of the Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry of the University of Western Ontario in London, Canada; and the Director of  the “Kilee Patchell-Evans” Autism Research Group, opened his lecture with the question; “Are The Microbes in Charge?”

Dr. MacFabe quickly directed us to an infection-behavior model that we were all familiar with, to help us get a handle on our skepticism regarding his question. He reminded us of the extreme behavioral changes in mammals with rabies. Rabies is caused by a virus of the Lyssavirus genus of the Rhabdoviridae family. As we know, infected animals can become vicious and lose a normal sense of fear; gross behavioral changes caused by a microorganism.

The focus of Dr. MacFabe’s current research is the autistic spectrum of disorders (which includes ADHD). In one aspect of its work, his group has introduced a compound, propionic acid (PPA), which can be formed through fermentation in the human gut by the bacterium Clostridium difficile, into the brains of rats, immediately causing behaviors in the rats that appear similar, if not identical to behaviors seen in autistic children. One can see video of these behaviors at his website.

Could a low-grade infection in the gut by Clostridium difficile elevate levels of PPA, and in susceptible individuals cause autism or ADHD? Are these children hooked on carbohydrates that facilitate the bacterial formation of PPA?

In the 1950's, the incidence of autism was one in 10,000. Now it is one in 90. The incidence of ADHD has also increased dramatically. What's going on?

Look at Dr. MacFabe’s work (, and give some more thought to what is controlling our children’s behavior. If you don’t, who will?

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