Spectrum Disorders, Aluminum and Maternal Immune Models: New Research and a New Paradigm

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New statistics from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) indicate that we may now expect 1 in 36 children to be diagnosed with autism/ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorders). Even more startling is that we may expect the number of male children to be 1 in 27. While much more research needs to be done on the difference between males and females in ASD, some current indicators confirm that females have a higher genetic load with greater genetic protection and males may be more vulnerable to spectrum expression through hypermasculinization/poor hormone aromatization (1). By 2033, it is projected that 1 in 4 children will be diagnosed with ASD. The rates of increase in diagnosed ASD are astounding. Autism was first identified in the 1930s with very low occurrences. In the 1980s, the number of children diagnosed was 1 in every 2,000. In the 1990s, rates began to rise dramatically, attributed to 3 known factors at this time. First is the increase in the numbers of vaccines recommended for children, 2nd is the number of children actually being vaccinated, and 3rd is the inclusion of aluminum hydroxide in the majority of vaccinations. In the mid 1980s, a child aged 18 months might have received aluminum exposure totaling 1,250 micrograms. In 2016, the CDC reported that number to have increased to 4,925 micrograms (chart below).

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What Does Aluminum Have to Do With All of This?

Dr. Chris Exley of Keele University in England recently released some critical research findings on the highest-ever aluminum findings in the brains of people afflicted with autism (2). The particular form of aluminum is aluminum hydroxide, a nanoparticle form of aluminum which is much more difficult to eliminate and transports differently in the body than ionic aluminum (which is removed by the kidneys and cannot pass the blood-brain-barrier). As Exley states, the significance is increased by the fact that the aluminum is inside the cells of the brain, carried through by blood and lymph cells:  “…while the aluminium content of each of the 5 brains [of people with autism] was shockingly high it was the location of the aluminium in the brain tissue which served as the standout observation…The new evidence strongly suggests that aluminium is entering the brain in ASD [autism spectrum disorders] via pro-inflammatory cells which have become loaded up with aluminium in the blood and/or lymph, much as has been demonstrated for monocytes at injection sites for vaccines including aluminium adjuvants.”

The pro-inflammatory cells in the blood and lymph are known as macrophages. Macrophages are essentially the "garbage men" of the immune system, collecting waste and toxic material. Monocytes attack at the vaccine injection site and are found to contain the aluminum hydroxide. Monocytes are a first line of defense against an immune invasion, something which is intended to occur in a vaccination in as part of immune system stimulation. Aluminum hydroxide is an "adjuvant" which contributes to this process, intended to "wake up" the immune system. Unfortunately, in the process of "waking up" the immune system, aluminum hydroxide obtains entry into the blood and lymph and makes its way into the brain and nervous system.


Additionally, research has shown that aluminum hydroxide produces a decrease in the healing of epithelial cells in the gut, contributing to poor mucosal membrane integrity and susceptibility to IBD (Irritable Bowel Disorder) (3). Aluminum blocks the function of the Peyers' patches in the lymphatic system in the gut as well. It is noted repeatedly in clinical practice that those people with spectrum disorders have great difficulty with bowel and microbiome imbalances. The gut and the diversity of the microbiome are absolutely key to overall immune function and health.

So, why do we even have aluminum hydroxide in vaccines to begin with? Canadian scientists Dr. Chris Shaw and Dr. Lucija Tomljenovic made this statement following their research into the matter several years ago (4):  “Aluminum is an experimentally demonstrated neurotoxin and the most commonly used vaccine adjuvant. Despite almost 90 years of widespread use of aluminum adjuvants, medical science’s understanding about their mechanisms of action is still remarkably poor. There is also a concerning scarcity of data on toxicology and pharmacokinetics of these compounds. In spite of this, the notion that aluminum in vaccines is safe appears to be widely accepted. Experimental research, however, clearly shows that aluminum adjuvants have a potential to induce serious immunological disorders in humans. In particular, aluminum in adjuvant form carries a risk for autoimmunity, long-term brain inflammation and associated neurological complications and may thus have profound and widespread adverse health consequences.”

The Maternal Immune Model and its Relationship to Autism

In 2006, CalTech scientist Dr. Paul Patterson published a remarkable paper on the relationship of the mother's immune system and the developing brain of the fetus. Dr. Patterson states very clearly the following (5):  “As we learn more about the connections between the brain and the immune system, we find that these seemingly independent networks of cells are, in fact, continually talking to each other. As an adult, the activation of your immune system causes many striking changes in your behavior — increased sleep, loss of appetite, less social interaction — and, of course, headaches. Conversely, stress in your life (as perceived by your brain) can influence immune function — the brain regulates immune organs, such as the spleen, via the autonomic nervous system. Recent evidence shows that this brain-immune conversation actually starts during the development of the embryo, where the state of the mother’s immune system can alter the growth of cells in the fetal brain. As we shall see, such alterations can lead to an increased risk of schizophrenia or autism in the offspring....There is also very striking evidence of immune dysregulation in the brain itself. Just last year, a group led by Carlos Pardo at Johns Hopkins found what they’re calling a “neural inflammation” in postmortem examination of brains of patients with autism who died between the ages of eight and 44 years. But these people weren’t infected — they died of such things as drowning or heart attacks. The study found that the microglial cells, which act as the brain’s own immune system, were activated. The study also found amazing increases of certain cytokines in the brain, and of others in the cerebro- spinal fluid. This is is a landmark paper, in my opinion. It presents the first evidence that there’s an ongoing, permanent immune-system activation in the brains of autistic people. It’s a subclinical state, because there’s no overt infection. But it’s there.”

Chronic microglial activation or "priming" in the brain creates hyperreactive cells. This pattern is connected with cytokine storms generated by overactivation of the IL-6 immune pathway, essentially generating a chronic "slow-burn" inflammation in the brain (6). IL-6 modulation is critical for mediating behavioral and transcriptional changes in offspring. A single maternal injection of IL-6 on day 12.5 of mouse pregnancy causes prepulse inhibition (PPI) and latent inhibition (LI) deficits in the adult offspring.”  Prepulse inhibition and latent inhibition deficits are hallmark traits of people diagnosed on the autism spectrum.

 Dr. Kimberley MAllister of the UC Davis Mind Institute stated on the topic of MIA (Maternal Immune Activation) in August 2016:

“These MIA (maternal immune activation) animal models meet all of the criteria required for validity for a disease model: They mimic a known disease-related risk factor (construct validity), they exhibit a wide range of disease-related symptoms (face validity), and they can be used to predict the efficacy of treatments (predictive validity).”

All of this points to a critical need to investigate and protect the health of the mother prior to conception and during pregnancy. It also points to a necessary questioning of the now-standard practice of vaccinating pregnant women, including the use of the flu shot which contains Thimerosal, a mercury-containing ingredient which has been removed from many children's vaccinations due to the mounting evidence of links between mercury toxicity and ASD. We must begin to look at the crisis of rising spectrum disorders through the lens of layers and liability thresholds, helping to remove as many risks as possible to the developing brain of a fetus and small child. Please see this article on the site for more information on preparation for mothers and fathers who wish to conceive a child:  https://www.truenaturehealthconsulting.com/blog/fertility-and-true-preparation

Solutions & Hope for Those Affected by ASD

We need a new paradigm to combat this epidemic, and many of us in the world of functional health are working hard to provide a paradigm of holistic approaches and focused attention for millions of families affected by ASD. We must move beyond the experiences of shame and guilt around how our children became injured and allow the greatest possible empowerment around advocacy, as well as the greatest opportunities for prevention going forward.

In clinical practice, the foci on aluminum detoxification, immune modulation, and digestive repair have produced many wonderful changes for people afflicted with spectrum disorders. Each person needs to be investigated individually for their own risks and expressions before initiating a proper therapeutic protocol designed to address their challenges. Many people with spectrum disorders suffer with imbalances in methylation capacity as well as immune and neurological imbalances. Utilizing the best testing methods, it is very possible to locate and begin to resolve the root causes of the disorder. Vitamin D, B vitamins, single domain antibodies, silica, methylation cofactors, glyphosate detoxifiers, and CBD (cannabinoids) are some of the most successful therapeutic agents utilized to date. Addressing bio-individual nutrition plus elimination of gluten and casein creates some relief immediately (heavy metal toxicities common with autism block the DPP-4 enzyme which normally breaks these compounds down in the body). When addressed with individual considerations, disorder behaviors and syndromes can begin to heal effectively and permanently. If you or someone you know is dealing with ASD, or you or someone you know is considering pregnancy, please contact julie@truenaturehealthconsulting.com to start a process of discovery and healing today.



1) Donna M. Werling, Daniel H. Geschwind, "Sex Differences in autism spectrum disorders", Curr Opin Neurol, April 2013

2) Dr. Chris Exley, "Aluminum in brain tissue in autism", November 2017, Journal of Trace Elements of Medicine and Biology

3) G Pineton de Chambrun, M Body-Malapel, Frey-Wagner, M Djouina, F Deknuydt, K Atrott, N Esquerre, F Altare, C Neut, MC Arrieta, T-D Kanneganti, G Rogler, J-F Colombel, A Cortot, P Desreumaux, C Vignal, "Aluminum enhances inflammation and decreases mucosal healing in experimental colitis in mice", Mucosal Immunology, May 2014

4) Dr. Chris Shaw, Dr. Lucija Tomljenovic, "Aluminum Vaccine Adjuvants: Are They Safe?", 2011, Current Medicinal Chemistry

5) Dr. Paul Patterson, Engineering & Science journal, "Pregnancy, Immunity, Schizophrenia and Autism", 2006

6) Stephen E.P. Smith, Jennifer Li, Krassimira Garbet, Karoly Mirnies, Paul Patterson, "Maternal Immune Activation Alters Fetal Brain Development through Interleukin-6", J Neurosci, October 2007

Stephanie Seneff, Robert M. Davidson, Jingjing Liu, "Empirical Data Confirm Autism Symptoms Related to Aluminum and Acetaminophen Exposure", Entropy 2012

Feiyong Jia, PhD, MD, Bing Wang, MD, Ling Shan, MD, Zhida Xu, PhD, Wouter G. Staal, PhD, Lin Du, MD, "Core Symptoms of Autism Improved After Vitamin D Supplementation", PEDIATRICS January 2015