A new study from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York, found two odd methods for quelling certain symptoms of autism.
The first involves raising body temperature through hot baths. The second, perhaps stranger notion, is ingesting parasitic worm eggs- ones that are harmful to pigs, not humans.
These hot baths and use of parasitic worms are meant to mimic a fever; new research reveals that a third of the individuals with autism show clinical improvement when they have a fever.
Growing evidence from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggest that autism could be the result of an overactive immune system. According to Dr. Eric Hollander, Chairman of the ICare4Autism advisory committee, an overactive immune system leads to high-levels of inflammation, a condition that is common in those diagnosed with autism.
The human body responds to high temperatures by releasing protective, anti-inflammatory signals, thus explaining the effect on autistic individuals.
To test this, researchers used parasitic worm eggs that were common in pigs as not to infect or cause illness in the test subjects.
“What we found was when they were on the worm, there was an improvement in three different scales that measured rigidity, flexibility or insistence on sameness,” Dr. Hollander said. “It turns out people with autism, they’re creatures of routine and habit, and if there’s an unexpected deviation, they tend to get upset and protest. But we got an improvement in three different measures of this, and as a result they were having less protest.”
Previous studies have found success with worms in treating the symptoms of Crone’s disease- another immune-related condition.
I think one of the things we’re starting to see is that a number of different genes involved in inflammation response are up-regulated in autism,” Dr. Hollander said. “Up until this point, there have been very little efforts to try and address this. So this is kind of exciting, because there are a lot of ways to modulate the immune system, and some of that knowledge can now be applied in terms of developing new treatments.”
For more information on autism and the immune system, follow the link here: http://www.icare4autism.org/