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Is There An Autism Yeast Infection Link?

Jan 30, 2008
The exact cause of autism is unknown with theories ranging from the result of immunization, genetics, or a combination of both. However, latest findings have demonstrated that there may also be an autism yeast infection link.

So what does yeast have to do with autism?

Studies show that autistic children have different 'gut flora' when compared to non-autistic children. Generally, healthy "good" bacteria are at work throughout the digestive tract to keep the digestive system operating normally. However, repeated doses of antibiotics (as would be prescribed, for example, for a regular childhood ear infection), or even exposure to common childhood diseases such as chicken pox, can destroy a large amount of the necessary gut flora, permitting Candida - an aggressive and opportunistic yeast infection - to grow and flourish.

Even in children who have not suffered from many common childhood diseases or who have not recently been prescribed antibiotics, there remain other ways for Candida to take hold in the body.

It is believed that general environmental factors may also be contributory factors. Exposure to toxins in the air a child breaths and the water he drinks, as well as genetic factors - for example, if a child's mother is prone to yeast infections, this may be passed on to the child - and a diet high in sugar all open up a child to a greater risk of Candida overgrowth.

Researchers now believe that there may be an link between autism and yeast infections which occurs when the Candida multiplies and changes the workings of the digestive tract, releasing a multitude of toxins into the body. The brain and the rest of the body's systems - such as the digestive system - are strongly linked. Therefore, disturbances within the digestive tract may have a direct impact on the brains functioning leading to a worsening of autism symptoms.

A study performed by researchers from the Center for the Study of Autism in Oregon treated autistic children for a yeast overgrowth. They demonstrated that once gut flora levels returned to normal, the children showed a decrease in hyperactivity and self-stimulatory behavior, as well as better eye contact and more restful sleep. There was also evidence of increased concentration and improve verbal abilities.

When treating yeast infections it is important to note that if the anti-fungal treatment is halted too early the yeast is likely to return, and it may be more aggressive, having developed some resistance to the drugs that had been used to treat it. Generally, the recommendation is for an autistic child to proceed with antifungal therapy for a minimum of six months in order to maintain improvements.

However, with use of antifungal therapy, drugs are only one half of the battle. Diet plays an important role in reducing yeast in the system, especially when it comes to sugary foods. Sugar is among the worst dietary contributors to Candida overgrowth, as yeast can flourish 200 times faster when sugar is available within the body.

So for anti-fungal treatments to be most effective it is recommended that your child follow a restricted diet that eliminated all sugars and any foods that contain yeast, which include bread products, cheese, and mushrooms.

The Autism Research Institute (ARI) founder, the late Dr. Bernard Rimland MD believed that in most cases, Candida is not the singular cause of autism. However his own research led him to conclude that a "small but significant" proportion of autistic kids - between 5% and 10% - will improve when properly treated for Candida.

For more information on whether yeast infection autism treatment is suitable for your child speak to your physican.
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