Are Mycotoxins Associated With Autism And Neuropsychiatric Symptoms

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Welcome to my blog post ‘Are Mycotoxins Associated With Autism And Neuropsychiatric Symptoms’. This blog assumes you are up to speed with what mycotoxins are, the signs and symptoms of mycotoxin illness, and how to test for them. If not, you may also be interested in the section of my blog dedicated to mycotoxins, click here, in particular:

Mycotoxins And Autism

Environmental factors and genetic susceptibility are implicated in the increased risk of autism spectrum disorder. A growing body of research suggests that the deterioration of the clinical manifestation of autism in children may result from the exposure to mycotoxins through the consumption of contaminated food (or exposure to a water damaged building).

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What Mycotoxins Cause Autism?

No one particular mycotoxin causes autism, and we can come up with an argument that, perhaps in some cases, the elevated levels of mycotoxin detected could be a consequence of other imbalances. Such as an imbalance in the gut microbiome or suboptimal nutrient status – two things that are frequently seen in children with autism, and two things the increase the risk of suffering from mycotoxins. It can become a bit of a vicious cycle.

Mycotoxins that have been discussed include:

  • Ochratoxin A
  • Zearalenone
  • Aflatoxins
  • Deoxynivalenol

How Do Mycotoxins Cause Autism?

Evidence has recently implicated exposure to mycotoxins in the pathogenesis of autism spectrum disorder. The effects of mycotoxins can be mediated via different pathways that include the secretion of pro-inflammatory cytokines, especially from mast cells (2).

Due to their chemical structure, mycotoxins have different target organs with a wide range of effects, such as intestinal permeability (leaky gut), oxidative stress, and inflammation in some target organs leading to nephrotoxicity, hepatotoxicity, neurotoxicity and immunotoxicity.

The exposure to mold and mycotoxins can affect the nervous system, directly or through immune cell activation, thus contributing to neurodevelopmental disorders such as autism spectrum disorder (4).

Interventions Discussed In The Research

The gluten-free/casein-free diet is a recurring finding in the literature with regard to autistic children, with alternate results. The tendency of autistic children to eat often the same foods can cause an overload in the intake of several substances and contaminants, such as mycotoxins.

The authors believed that in autism children with gut problems and altered intestinal permeability, intolerances should be sought and, if positive, a rotation diet should be applied, together with probiotics, in order to improve their clinical issues.

A personalised diet coupled with probiotic administration, especially OTA adsorbing Lactobacillus, could ameliorate autistic symptoms in OTA-positive patients (3).

You can learn more about specific treatment for mycotoxins in my other blogs. Click here.

Conclusion

Results show that autistic patients have a significant amount of several mycotoxins in their body fluids compared to the controls, even with respect to their siblings that should share the same environment and food habits. This backs up my argument that mycotoxins may not be the cause, but accumulate as a result of other factors. When physiology is out of balance, we are more susceptible and thus we will find more things wrong with us! It’s important to be able to take the step back and take a holistic view of health rather than get to focussed on just one thing causing our health issue.

The overlap of the toxicological effects of some mycotoxins with several autistic features e.g., oxidative stress, leaky gut and inflammation that, in turn, impair the gut-brain axis, is remarkable.

We know that mycotoxins cause leaky gut, inflammation, cell damage and ‘leaky brain’ so it should not be too surprising that the effects of mycotoxins overlap with autistic features.

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Summary Of Are Mycotoxins Associated With Autism And Neuropsychiatric Symptoms  :

  •  Mycotoxins have been associated with autism.
  • There is a chicken and egg argument, but treating the mycotoxins will be important either way.
  • Diets can be tailored and this is important to do.
  • Probiotics can be helpful.
  • Improving nutrient status and gut health are crucial.

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References For ‘Are Mycotoxins Associated With Autism And Neuropsychiatric Symptoms’:

  1. Study on the Association among Mycotoxins and other Variables in Children with Autism: click here.
  2. Effects of Mycotoxins on Neuropsychiatric Symptoms and Immune Processes: click here.
  3. Role of mycotoxins in the pathobiology of autism: A first evidence: click here
  4. Effects of Mycotoxins on Neuropsychiatric Symptoms and Immune Processes: click here.
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