Friday 30 August 2019

Cesarian Delivery and Autism – another inconvenient truth?

Brasil is the C-section capital of the world, with rates in the public sector of 35–45%, and 80–90% in the private sector.

A recent study from the Karolinska Institute in Sweden, analysing 61 previous studies, has again shown a connection between birth by Cesarian Section and an increased risk of autism or indeed ADHD. 

C-sections account for just 16% of births in Sweden, but 32% in North America.

This of course prompted a reaction to reassure future mothers that they have nothing to fear, from experts in obstetrics who of course know nothing about the etiology of autism.  Mothers should be reassured, but trashing the study helps nobody.  Instead of a 1% risk of non-trivial autism, it rises to 1.3%. You still have more than a 98% chance of having a neurotypical child, all other factors being equal.  Without a medically necessary C-section, death is a real possibility.

It was a couple of years ago that the Karolinska Institute highlighted the fact that those with severe autism currently have a life expectancy of under 40 years.  Another inconvenient truth.

Association of Cesarean Delivery With Risk of Neurodevelopmental and Psychiatric Disorders in the Offspring 

Question  Is birth by cesarean delivery associated with an increased risk of neurodevelopmental and psychiatric disorders in the offspring compared with birth by vaginal delivery?
Findings  In this systematic review and meta-analysis of 61 studies comprising more than 20 million deliveries, birth by cesarean delivery was significantly associated with autism spectrum disorder and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder.
Meaning  The findings suggest that understanding the potential mechanisms behind these associations is important, especially given the increase in cesarean delivery rates for nonmedical reasons.
Importance  Birth by cesarean delivery is increasing globally, particularly cesarean deliveries without medical indication. Children born via cesarean delivery may have an increased risk of negative health outcomes, but the evidence for psychiatric disorders is incomplete. 
Conclusions and Relevance  The findings suggest that cesarean delivery births are associated with an increased risk of autism spectrum disorder and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, irrespective of cesarean delivery modality, compared with vaginal delivery. Future studies on the mechanisms behind these associations appear to be warranted. 
Very many things are known to slightly increase the odds of a person having autism and the more risk factors you have the more severely autistic you may be.  This ranges from maternal stress (anything from experiencing a hurricane, work stress, life trauma) to maternal/paternal age, obesity, gestational diabetes, alcohol/drug abuse, illness during pregnancy etc. This combines with whatever is in the parents’ DNA and random mutations that are bound to occur.    

A more rational reaction might be to investigate further why there might be a link and how you could counter any risk to children born by cesarian section.  You only have to read the existing research, or this blog.

There are 2 very good reasons why there should be a link between autism and C section, both have been covered in this blog.

1.     The microbiome comes from the mother. Science is only recently starting to understand the role of bacteria in health, but we know that it plays a key role in conditioning/calibrating the immune system of babies.  Once the immune system has been calibrated it is set for life.  Early exposure to bacteria is necessary and humans evolved to expect it.  If your immune system is over/under sensitive there will be consequences. Birth via C-section avoids exposure to bacteria in the birth canal, unless the newly arrived baby is “seeded” with bacteria from the mother. Mother’s milk is another key source of transferring the mother’s microbiome to the baby. 

2.     We saw that the birthing hormone Oxytocin plays a key role in triggering the “GABA switch” in new-borns. This is the process which transforms immature neurons with high chloride to mature neurons with low chloride shortly after birth.  During natural birth there is a surge in the hormone Oxytocin that is transferred to the baby, this causes the chloride transporter KCC2 to be further expressed and the “opposing” transporter NKCC1 to fade away.  In many people with severe autism their neurons remain in the immature state their entire life.  Just as you can replace the bacteria transfer lost in birth via C-section, there would be absolutely no reason why you could not replicate the surge in Oxytocin to "flip the GABA switch".

The recent study showed that elective C-sections (where the baby is in perfect health and not distressed) are associated with the elevated risk of both Autism and ASD.

Regular readers of this blog would probably be surprised if C-section did not increase autism prevalence.

The important thing is to acknowledge this likely connection and mitigate it, rather than try and fault the numerous studies that have shown the same effect.

The same of course applies to reducing the very small risk from vaccines, rather than construct new studies in a contrived way to show there is zero risk.   If you can safely and cheaply reduce the risk of a negative reaction to vaccines, why wouldn’t you?  Just follow Johns Hopkins example and give Ibuprofen or Montelukast (Singular) for a few days before and after and remember to never give Paracetamol/Acetaminophen (Tylenol) in response to fever after a vaccine. Paracetamol/ Acetaminophen reduces the body’s key antioxidant GSH just when the baby/child may need its neuroprotection most.

Some conditions are associated with preterm births, a good example is Cerebral Palsy (CP), which is twice as common in babies born very early. CP is rarely genetic and is usually considered to be caused by a complication during pregnancy, birth or shortly thereafter. I think you would find a correlation between C-sections and CP, but in this case I doubt you would find it in elective C-sections.   In other words C-sections do not “cause” CP, but they may be associated with it. The ID/MR often found in CP might be elevated by C-section and, if so, would be treatable.


In order to halt the rise in incidence of the disabling kinds of autism there should be steps taken to reduce some of the very many factors that are driving the increase, albeit each one sometimes by a tiny amount.

This would be a good application of all those thousands of autism research papers, many of which have shown what factors contribute to increased risk, that now sit gathering dust.

We are not at the stage of wide scale gene editing, but many simple steps can be taken today to improve future health.  This does not mean do not vaccinate, or avoid medically necessary C-sections; vaccinations and C-sections have saved millions of lives. But, why would you not want to take a good thing and make it even better?  That is what we humans tend to be good at, like the Swedes and their Volvos.

Perhaps take your C-section with a generous smear of Mum's bacteria and a shot of synthetic oxytocin?  

There will be more on Cerebral Palsy in a later post on D-NAC (Dendrimer N-Acetyl Cysteine). 


Thursday 22 August 2019

Bumetanide 5mg for Parkinson’s Disease?

I have been asked twice about off-label therapies for Parkinson’s, both times I mentioned Bumetanide, but having rechecked the literature, there is now plenty of supporting data, enough that a clinical trial has now been put in motion in France.

Parkinson’s disease is all about a lack of dopamine and bumetanide is all about making GABA work as inhibitory. You might wonder why is Peter suggesting people to talk to their doctor about giving their elderly parents a diuretic. Well the lack of dopamine goes on to cause a GABA dysfunction, which is treatable and does improve the symptoms of Parkinson’s.

So, Bumetanide will not cure Parkinson’s, but may reduce its severity.

In the case of the last person who asked me, her mother already takes a diuretic for other reasons, so all she would have to do is to switch drugs to Bumetanide. The doctor was only too happy, when given the evidence, to switch her to Bumetanide - a rare victory for common sense. 

What caught my attention was the dosage of Bumetanide used in the published case histories and the concern about polyuria. Polyuria is too much urination. The dose used was 5mg taken all in one go and that is a lot; you would have to run to the bathroom, which might cause falls in people with poor balance.

Since we recently discovered that Azosemide has the same effect on GABA as Bumetanide, but can have a less urgent effect as a diuretic, it may be that Azosemide is a better choice for Grandma with Parkinson’s.  Incontinence can be a feature of Parkinson’s disease.  The ideal drug will be the new one being developed by Neurochloré for autism.

Standard Parkinson’s Drugs

Since most symptoms of Parkinson’s disease (PD) are caused by a lack of dopamine in the brain, many PD drugs are aimed at either temporarily replenishing dopamine or mimicking the action of dopamine. These types of drugs are called dopaminergic medications. They generally help reduce muscle rigidity, improve speed and coordination of movement and lessen tremor.

L-DOPA, the standard treatment for Parkinson’s is actually also used in some people with autism, in particular people with Angelman Syndrome, although it failed in a clinical trial.

Bumetanide for Parkinson’s?

The clinical trial for Parkinson’s will use the standard rating scale (UPDRS) that is very much centered on motor skills. There is a tiny part on memory.

Cognition is affected in Parkinson’s and this might be another area that improves with Bumetanide; but someone has to bother to measure it.

Nobody has measured the effect of Bumetanide on IQ in those with autism, even though the effect can be substantial.


Four patients suffering from idiopathic PD at the stage of motor fluctuation were included. All of them gave their written informed consent to receive open-label bumetanide. Bumetanide was progressively titrated up to 3 mg/d (once daily) received for a month. After having verified the good tolerability of the treatment, bumetanide was increased to 5 mg/d (once daily) and received for another month. Bumetanide was added to the patient's usual antiparkinsonian treatment that was maintained stable the month before and unchanged during the study. The patients were assessed before and at 1 and 2 months after the initiation of bumetanide.
At each visit, the patient was asked about any side effects having occurred since the last visit. A Unified Parkinson's Disease Rating Scale (UPDRS)19 was performed before and after 2 months of treatment in a practical OFF stage (the patients came in the afternoon, having not taken antiparkinsonian drugs for 4 hours, and confirmed to be in an OFF stage). At the end of the study, the patient was also asked to give a global impression of change compared with baseline.

Case 3

The patient was a 58-year-old man with a 21-year history of
PD. After early development of disabling motor fluctuation and dyskinesia despite an optimized drug treatment, bilateral subthalamic electrodes were implanted 16 years ago for continuous deep brain stimulation (DBS). He got an excellent control of PD motor symptoms. However, after a year of DBS treatment, he started to develop freezing of gait and dysarthria. Despite many attempts of adjusting the treatment (DBS parameters, changes in drug treatment, and physiotherapy), these symptoms remained disabling and even slowly worsened with time. Motor fluctuation and dyskinesia were well controlled by both DBS (left side: case positive, electrode 2 negative, voltage 3.5 V; right side: case positive, electrode 1 negative, voltage 3 V; for both sides: pulse width 60 microseconds, frequency 100 Hz) and drug treatment. The latter consisted of L-DOPA, 1000 mg/d (5 intakes per day); ropinirole, 2 mg/d; and amantadine, 200 mg/d. The freezing of gait was highly disabling.

At home, the patient could walk a few steps alone with a high risk of falls. Most of the time, he was wheelchair bound. After a few days of bumetanide at a dosage of 5 mg/d, the gait dramatically improved. He was able to walk almost 1000 m without any help.

The voice was unchanged. The UPDRS III in the OFF stage was hardly changed (10% improvement), and the UPDRS II in the worst state improved by 15%. The UPDRS II in the best condition was unchanged (21 to 18). The patient and the caregiver assessed the general improvement at 50%. Despite the polyuria and the fatigue, he has decided to continue the bumetanide treatment.
After a few weeks, the improvement of gait was less dramatic but still noticeable.

GABAergic inhibition in dual-transmission cholinergic and GABAergic striatal interneurons is abolished in Parkinson disease 

We report that half striatal cholinergic interneurons are dual transmitter cholinergic and GABAergic interneurons (CGINs) expressing ChAT, GAD65, Lhx7, and Lhx6 mRNAs, labeled with GAD and VGAT, generating monosynaptic dual cholinergic/GABAergic currents and an inhibitory pause response. Dopamine deprivation increases CGINs ongoing activity and abolishes GABAergic inhibition including the cortico-striatal pause because of high [Cl]i levels. Dopamine deprivation also dramatically increases CGINs dendritic arbors and monosynaptic interconnections probability, suggesting the formation of a dense CGINs network. The NKCC1 chloride importer antagonist bumetanide, which reduces [Cl]ilevels, restores GABAergic inhibition, the cortico-striatal pause-rebound response, and attenuates motor effects of dopamine deprivation. Therefore, most of the striatal cholinergic excitatory drive is balanced by a concomitant powerful GABAergic inhibition that is impaired by dopamine deprivation. The attenuation by bumetanide of cardinal features of Parkinson’s disease paves the way to a novel therapeutic strategy based on a restoration of low [Cl]i levels and GABAergic inhibition.

Official Title:
A Randomized Double-blind Placebo-controlled Multicenter Proof-of-concept Trial to Assess the Efficacy and Safety of Bumetanide in Parkinson's Disease
Actual Study Start Date  :
April 26, 2019
Estimated Primary Completion Date  :
September 2020
Estimated Study Completion Date  :
August 2021


There is now a long list of neurological conditions that may respond to bumetanide:-

·        Autism
·        Fragile-X Syndrome
·        Down Syndrome
·        Schizophrenia
·        Huntington’s Disease
·        Parkinson’s Disease

In addition, it is obvious that some epilepsy will respond to Bumetanide. The original epilepsy drug from 150 years ago, KBr, has the same mechanism of action, lowering chloride within neurons.

Perhaps higher doses of Bumetanide need to be trialled in autism, 5mg all at once is far higher than what has been used so far in studies.

Thursday 15 August 2019

Wandering, Water, Sense of Danger and Accidents

We were recently at the seaside in Greece, where Monty was enjoying swimming in the sea. He is now a very competent swimmer and behaves in the water just like any other confident swimmer. Together with Mum he actually rescued a Russian swimmer in distress.  Monty does not get crazy ideas to swim to islands in the distance, or anything like that. Not so far, at least. 

Water is behind a shocking number of wanderings and deaths.

In the North American media, you can see that on a very regular basis children with autism and/or ID/MR (Intellectual Disability/Mental Retardation) wander off and get lost. Very often they are found in or beside water.

In Europe you hear much less frequently about children wandering. A high-profile case recently was an Irish teenage girl with MR/ID who disappeared while on holiday at a tiny jungle resort in Malaysia.  She left behind an open ground floor window and was found 10 days later beside a stream in a ravine a mile away. 

She had holoprosencephaly, which is an umbrella term for conditions relating to when the forebrain of the embryo fails to develop into two separate hemispheres, it includes Agenesis of the Corpus Callosum (ACC) when the part of the brain that is supposed to connect the two hemispheres fails to develop. Partial ACC and the exact opposite are features appearing in some severe autism.

People with MR/ID have no sense of danger and are usually enchanted by water. Wandering is far more likely than abduction.

Another case recently was an American teenager on a cruise arranged by his residential care home, it appears that he jumped over the deck railing at night to go for a swim in the ocean.

Even a bath tub can be dangerous, a young man with autism and epilepsy was left unattended in a bath at a UK care facility. He had a seizure and drowned.

I do think much more could be done to prevent wandering and water-related accidents. Firstly, people (parents) should be made more aware of who is at risk; anyone with a low IQ and unable to travel independently is at risk.

People with ID/MR often live in a world of cartoons, where all kinds of crazy things are possible, like jumping off a cruise ship and nobody ever gets hurt.  Going to a jungle retreat, like you are living in the Jungle Book cartoon, why wouldn’t you sneak downstairs in the night and enter your private jungle world?

Just because you have never been able to wander before does not mean you never will. 

The shortened life expectancy of people with severe autism is in large part down to preventable accidents, seizures and poor basic healthcare.

I do think that treating MR/ID would be much more socially acceptable than treating autism. Understanding the danger of crossing a road, or falling into a lake is more important than being able to tie your shoe laces.  If you can improve cognition with a pill, who could possibly object to that? 

It is no surprise that we have but no 

In reality you will struggle to have treating ID taken seriously, although for many people it is possible.