Autism, better known today as autism spectrum disorders (ASD), is a pervasive developmental disorder (PDD). Through the introduction of colostrum into the daily regimen with its many ‘whole food’ constituents it can have a great beneficial impact on varying degrees of impairment in restricted, repetitive and stereotyped communication skills, social interactions and behavior patterns.
Autism spectrum disorders are more common in the pediatric population than some more well-known diseases, such as diabetes, spina bifida or Down syndrome. A recent study in the United States estimated that 3.4 out of every 1,000 children ages 3 to 10 have autism. Men are four times more likely to have autism than women.
The hallmark of autism is impaired social interaction. As early as infancy, a baby with autism may be unresponsive to people or intensely focused on one item to the exclusion of others for long periods of time. Some affected children appear to develop normally and then withdraw and become indifferent to social engagement. Children with autism also rarely respond to her name and often avoid eye contact with other people.
Many children with autism engage in repetitive movements, such as rocking and turning, or self-abusive behaviors, such as biting or head banging. They also tend to start talking later than other children and may refer to themselves by name instead of “I” or “me.” Some affected children sing-song about a limited range of favorite topics, regardless of the interests of the person they are talking to. Also, they usually don’t know how to play interactively with other children.
Children with autism spectrum disorders also have reduced sensitivity to pain, but are abnormally sensitive to sound, touch, or other sensory stimulation. Some sounds—a vacuum cleaner, a ringing phone, or a sudden storm—can cause some children to cover their ears and scream. Many of the affected children find the feeling of clothing touching their skin unbearable. These unusual reactions can contribute to behavioral symptoms, such as resistance to being hugged or hugged.
The most severe forms of autism spectrum disorders are Rett syndrome and childhood disintegrative disorder. Rett syndrome occurs almost exclusively in females, with a frequency of 1 in 10,000 to 15,000. After a period of development, usually between 6 and 18 months, the child’s mental and social development regresses: they no longer he responds to his parents and withdraws from any social contact. If she has been talking, she stops; she can’t control her feet; and she wrings her hands.
In addition to behavioral and social deficits, children with autism spectrum disorders often have one or more of the following associated complications.
• Mental retardation. Some skill areas may be normal, while others may be especially weak. • Sizes. One in four affected children develops seizures, often beginning in early childhood or adolescence. • X fragile syndrome. A defective segment of the X chromosome is the most common form of hereditary mental retardation, affecting 2-5% of people with autism spectrum disorders. • Tuberous sclerosis. Between 1 and 5% of people with autism spectrum disorders have tuberous sclerosis, a rare genetic disorder that causes benign tumors to grow in the brain and other vital organs.
The recognition of autism as a medical syndrome more than 50 years ago led to the search for causative risk factors. Several research organizations concluded that the responsible agent was mercury poisoning due to the use of thimerosal, a mercury-based preservative, in childhood vaccines. Thimerosal was never used as a preservative in some childhood vaccines (measles, mumps, polio) and was removed from others (DPT) several years ago. Despite no childhood vaccine containing thimerosal for several years, the incidence of autism increased from 0.3 per 1,000 births in 1993 to 1.5 per 1,000 births in 2003; to current estimates of 3.4 per 1,000 births.
It is now believed that both genetics and the environment play a role. Recent studies strongly suggest that some people have a genetic predisposition to autism. In families with one autistic child, the risk of having a second child with the disorder is approximately 5%, which is higher than the risk in the general population. Several genes related to the disorder have been identified. A recent study from the University of Chicago identified a microdeletion in a particular chromosome in affected families. The microdeletion represented the loss of around 25 known genes, of which 12 are part of a unique genetic network that includes genes involved in cell-to-cell signaling and interaction. At least three of these genes are expressed primarily in the brain and are thought to influence behaviour. Studies at other institutions have identified microdeletions in other chromosomes with similar consequences in affected families.
Other studies of people with autism spectrum disorders have found irregularities in various regions of the brain. Affected people have also been shown to have abnormal levels of certain chemical neurotransmitters, such as serotonin and glutathione, in the brain. The combined abnormalities suggest that autism spectrum disorders could result from early disruption of brain development in the fetus caused by defects in genes that control brain growth and regulate how neurons communicate with each other. Sudden and rapid head growth may be an early warning sign leading to early diagnosis and intervention.
The life of a person with an autism spectrum disorder can often be further complicated by allergic reactions to various foods. There was a time when such allergic reactions, particularly to gluten and certain proteins found in dairy products, were believed to be the cause of the disorders. As a consequence, specialized diets were developed and falsely promoted as “cures” for the disorders. An additional complication may be the frequent occurrence of gastrointestinal infections with organisms that are part of the natural flora, particularly yeasts (Candida species). These problems seem to indicate that the immune system may also be compromised in some, if not all, individuals with autism spectrum disorders.
The benefits of bovine colostrum
Colostrum is an amazing material that, like many other things in nature, reflects the evolutionary development of a unique composition that will serve the needs of its intended offspring. The most unique colostrum of mammalian species is produced in bovines, where transfer of biological substances across the placenta to the developing fetus does not occur and everything necessary for the development of healthy and productive offspring is provided in the colostrum. As such, bovine colostrum provides a specialized resource that offers the broadest possible spectrum of biologically active substances that can promote the development of solid body mass, ensure effective and efficient metabolism, and support the activation and maintenance of a fully-fledged immune system. functional capable of combating potential aggressions from microorganisms and other harmful sources. Bovine colostrum is also compatible with nearly all species and can easily pass on all of its benefits to humans through routine dietary supplementation without significant adverse effects.
The active substances found in high quality first milk bovine colostrum may provide significant benefits to people with autism spectrum disorders.
In addition to its role as a neurotransmitter, glutathione is the most important antioxidant produced by a cell. It directly participates in the neutralization of free radicals and reactive oxygen compounds and maintains other antioxidants, such as vitamins C and E, in their active forms. Additionally, glutathione can interact with many organic and inorganic substances and help the body detoxify.
Orally ingested glutathione has negligible absorption and therefore must be manufactured within the cell. It is a tripeptide composed of three amino acids, cysteine, glycine and glutamic acid. Both glycine and glutamic acid are readily available in the diet of most people, but cysteine is not, making it the rate-limiting substance for glutathione formation within a cell. As a free amino acid, cysteine is potentially toxic and is broken down in the gastrointestinal tract and blood. The most stable form of this amino acid is cystine, which is two cysteine molecules linked together by a disulfide bond. Cystine is not broken down by stomach acid or proteolytic enzymes and is easily absorbed. It is rapidly reduced to two cysteine molecules when it enters a cell. Also, cystine can cross the blood-brain barrier.
The proteins albumin, lactoferrin, and lactalbumin found in substantial amounts in first-milking bovine colostrum are excellent resources for cystine. The amount of albumin is highest in the colostrum of the first milking and decreases with time after birth. Transitional milk, obtained 96 hours (4 days) after the birth of the calf, contains only about 20% of the albumin found in bovine colostrum from the first milking taken within 6 hours of birth. Thus, first milking bovine colostrum, obtained within 6 hours after the birth of a calf, contains approximately 5 times more albumin than milk and, therefore, provides at least 5 times more albumin cystine than milk. .
Immune system deficiency
Very early in life, the base of the immune system is established within a small gland-like structure in the upper chest, the thymus. It is within this structure that the cells mature that will determine the appropriate type of response that the immune system must mount after an attack, be it by an invading microorganism or by an allergen. Thymus cells will also regulate the quality and intensity of that response.
Colostrum is an amazing resource of substances necessary to strengthen and support the immune system, enhance the development and repair of cells and tissues; and ensures effective and efficient metabolism of nutrients. However, it is very important to recognize that not all colostrum products are created equal and, despite their manufacturers’ claims, not all contain all of the beneficial components in optimal concentration. In many cases, they have been tampered with and some of the essential components may be missing. When choosing a colostrum product, it is necessary to ensure that it is made only with first-milking bovine colostrum collected within 6 hours of calf birth and that the colostrum is “complete” and that none of the components have been removed, including the fat one.