A father remarked an interesting phenomenon in his son who suffers from autism. John Rodakis noticed that the boy’s autism symptoms weakened after a course of antibiotics. This observation prompted scientists to further look into the matter.
The boy was under antibiotic treatment for strep throat. He was taking amoxicillin, a popular form of penicillin and the most used antibiotic in the United States. Amoxicillin is used when treating bacterial infections like bronchitis, pneumonia and tonsillitis. The boy was prescribed a 10-day course of amoxicillin but after 4 days, his father noticed changes in his behavior:
“He began making eye contact, which he had previously avoided; his speech, which was severely delayed, began to improve markedly; he became less ‘rigid’ in his insistence for sameness and routine; and he also displayed an uncharacteristic level of energy, which he had historically lacked.”
Rodakis described these changes and the investigations he had done in order to understand the connection between autism and antibiotics in the Microbial Ecology in Health and Disease journal.
Rodakis found other autism cases which were influenced by antibiotic therapy, the children manifesting weaker symptoms after taking the medication. However, he also found cases where parents noticed the symptoms worsened after a course of antibiotics. Rodakis concluded that these contradictory scenarios only reinforce the hypothesis that “an antibiotic can create an effect in autism”.
The father’s research led him to Dr. Richard Frye, head of the Autism Research Program at Arkansas Children’s Hospital Research Institute. After consulting other researchers, the conclusion was clear: a study was needed.
Dr. Frye explained that scientific studies are based on such observations like the ones brought by parents of children with autism. The information is tested using various methods and the results are then analyzed. This is how one stumbles upon “ground-breaking scientific discoveries”.
In recent years, a new theory has emerged – the possibility of a link between the microbiome (all the micro-organisms living in and on the human body) and autism called “gut brain connection”.
Dr. Rosa Krajmalnik-Brown led a team of scientists that discovered children suffering from autism present a gut microbiome that is less diverse in comparison to children without autism.
There is a need for further studies to be conducted but Rodakis is hopeful, considering his observations will be helpful in the search for an effective treatment for his son.
Image Source: VanDerMark