In recent years, scientists have learned more about the microbes residing in the human gut and how they affect health and wellbeing. We have learned that microbes outnumber human cells in the body – roughly 90% microbes to 10% human cells. We know the microbes in our gut help digest our food and in the process help create vitamins, neurotransmitters, and hormones. We know 80% of our immunity begins in the gut. We are beginning to understand the link between the gut, autoimmune diseases, and neurological syndromes.
Earlier studies confirmed that bacteria in the gut of obese people is different than normal intestinal flora. Thin people have a diverse and plentiful microbial ecosystem in their gut, whereas obese individuals do not. Some particular strains in obese people even differ from those who are lean. Transplanting these microbes can cause obesity in mice studies. Further studies will tell us if the reverse is true, if transplanting healthy microbes can reverse obesity.
Next, we learned that maternal obesity was associated with alterations in the gut microbiome of their babies. Then scientists performed statistical studies that revealed children born to obese mothers showed an increased risk of neurodevelopmental disorders such as autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Then the question arose – Does the intestinal microbiota and what has been known as the gut brain axis play a part in neurodevelopmental disorders? Could altered gut microbiota induce autistic behaviors?
The answer is a resounding yes. A new study clearly showed that mice born to obese mothers were missing several strains of bacteria in their guts. Behavior equivalent to autism in humans become prevalent in this group. When given the missing bacterial species, oxytocin levels and synaptic dysfunction were corrected and social deficit behaviors were reversed, but not all symptoms were eliminated.
This fascinating study clearly linked gut health and autism, and opened the door to further research as well as prevention and treatment options for obesity and autism.
This is not the first time that gastrointestinal disease has been associated with autism. An earlier investigation into the connection between gut health and autism began 20 years ago. Unfortunately, the causal factor for that study was not maternal obesity. Instead, the MMR vaccine appeared to be the common cause of the intestinal disease in most of the children, but like the recent study, the intestinal disease was clearly tied to the autism.
A Fresh Look at Dr. Andrew Wakefield
It all began on May 17th, 1995, when Dr. Andrew Wakefield received a call from a mother who told him that her child was developing normally before receiving an MMR vaccination. After the vaccine, her child regressed into autism and began suffering from terrible gastrointestinal problems. She told him there were other children she knew of with the same story.
In February 1998, Dr. Andrew Wakefield, Prof. John Walker Smith, Dr. Simon Murch, and 10 other co-authors published a case study of 12 children in the Lancet, a British Medical Journal. The case study of these 12 autistic children with gastrointestinal disease stated the following:
“Findings: Onset of behavioral symptoms was associated, by the parents, with measles, mumps, rubella vaccination in 8 of the 12 children.” Lancet 1998
The researchers were correctly reporting information as collected, as they would in any case study. But Wakefield went on to publicly bring attention to the possibility that the MMR vaccine might be a causal factor in autism, and he recommended that parents choose the individual measles, mumps, and rubella shots (spaced out over time) rather than the MMR combination vaccine.
The individual shots, which were available in both the UK and the USA at the time of Wakefield’s recommendation, were soon discontinued (within 6 months in the UK). The publication, the publicity, and the controversy caused an uproar. Dr. Wakefield was blamed for a sharp decline in vaccine compliance in the UK and to some extent in the U.S.A.
Dr. Wakefield contends that the decline in the MMR was matched by an uptake of the individual shots before they were discontinued, that vaccine compliance was not actually affected until the individual shots were discontinued. He believes the blame for the decline in the vaccination rate should rest with those who chose to discontinue the individual vaccines.
The controversy Dr. Wakefield stirred was probably enough to make him a target, but he increased his risk by agreeing to serve as an expert witness for parents of autistic children who were entering litigation.
Then the United Kingdom General Medical Council regulatory board (GMC), the licensing board for physicians in England, ruled that the study and the published paper were fraudulent. Ten of the authors signed a letter retracting the claim that the MMR vaccine caused autism, even though the paper stated no such conclusion. Wakefield, Smith, and Murch refused to sign the paper and were brought up before the GMC on misconduct charges.
In an interview, Andy Wakefield said,
At the GMC, there were 3 defendants: Professor Walker Smith, who was at the time the world’s leading pediatric gastroenterologist, a very senior man with an impeccable record, an unimpeachable career, one of his juniors, Dr. Simon Murch, and… and myself. All three of us were found guilty.
“Simon Murch did not lose his license, but Walker Smith and I lost our license. He was then funded to appeal in the English high court. I did appeal but I … for financial reasons… it was impossible for me to pursue that. And it was not a primary objective after that to restore my license. There were more import things to do.
“But Professor Walker Smith did appeal and at that appeal, the first time this case had ever come before a proper judiciary…a proper judge… and the judge destroyed the General Medical Council’s decision.
“He said effectively they were incompetent. They were not in a position to judge the evidence. That they made mistakes; they got the facts wrong. They misrepresented the evidence. And worse of all, they were biased. They had made up their minds from the outset that we were guilty. And he completely overturned their decision and said in effect this must never happen again.
“Walker Smith was completely reinstated and all charges against him utterly dismissed. Ninety percent of the charges against Walker Smith were the same charges as those against me. The paper should have been reinstated and yet the Lancet editor refused to do that in order to protect his reputation and his job.”
It was 2012 when Professor Smith won his appeal against the GMC and his license to practice medicine was restored. The story, according to Wakefield, was published in one newspaper. How many children have been sacrificed to protect the pharmaceutical industry in the last 20 years?
Andy Wakefield continues to defend the paper he and his co-authors published, and he continues to state the need for the MMR vaccine to be discontinued and individual shots to be manufactured and distributed in its place. He recently came back into the news as the director of the film Vaxxed: From Cover Up to Catastrophe, a film about the CDC whistleblower, Dr. William Thompson who revealed data was removed from a study that confirmed a link between the MMR vaccine and autism.
Though Andrew Wakefield is alive and well, when Del Bigtree, the producer of Vaxxed, discussed Wakefield’s past, the loss of his license, position, and influence in this critical area of research, he sounds like he is delivering a eulogy.
The world lost one of the greatest scientific minds of our times when Andy Wakefield was taken from us. This was a man who was doing studies that were going to lead to healthier vaccines and better ways to take care of the health of our children. That, unfortunately, was going to cost a lot of money for the vaccine industry, and they cared a lot more about their industry and their money than they did the health of children. And so I can confidently say, that I am proud to be working on this picture about the CDC whistleblower with Andy Wakefield.” – Del Bigtree interview for ABC World News Tonight 3/26/16
Clearly, evidence that our health is dependent on our gut microbiome keeps growing. Leaky gut syndrome leads to a host of illnesses including autoimmune diseases. The microbiome is linked to mental illness, obesity, and immunity. And now, we once again are seeing a clear link with autism and other neurodevelopmental disorders on the autism spectrum.
Whether adult or child, a healthy gut is fundamental to a healthy life. And gut health begins with diet. A prebiotic diet with 80% fresh, raw, organic produce helps establish and maintain a healthy microbiome. We need to avoid antibiotics along with artificial flavors, colors, and preservatives. Eliminate MSG and GMOs. Limit or eliminate processed sugar and gluten. Eat real food, not nutrient stripped processed food. Avoid pesticides.
We can rebuild a healthy gut through diet as we detox from heavy metals and the chemicals that disrupt and kill healthy bacteria in our gut. We can kill off the overgrowth of Candida that causes us to have a permeable gut. We can choose to live a healthy lifestyle and we can help our children live a healthy lifestyle. Some of those choices will be hard. Do we continue to eat the standard American diet? Do we keep poisoning our food and our bodies with glyphosate and GMOs? Do we use conventional soaps and shampoos filled with chemicals? Do we follow the current vaccine schedule? With the looming prediction that 1 of every 2 children will have autism if we continue on this path, we need to make the right decisions now.
- How To Detoxify and Heal From Vaccinations – For Adults and Children
- The MMR Vaccine – A Comprehensive Overview of the Potential Dangers and Effectiveness
- Doctors Against Vaccines – Hear From Those Who Have Done the Research
- Holistic Guide to Healing the Endocrine System and Balancing Our Hormones
- Gluten, Candida, Leaky Gut Syndrome, and Autoimmune Diseases
- How Gut Bacteria Help Make Us Fat and Thin – Scientific American
- Microbial Reconstitution Reverses Maternal Diet-Induced Social and Synaptic Deficits in Offspring – Cell
- Dr. Andrew Wakefield Deals With Allegations – You Tube