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US Autism & Asperger Association, Inc. November 12 , 2007

Welcome to USAAA Weekly News, an email newsletter that addresses a range of topics on Autism Spectrum Disorders and Asperger's Syndrome.

Woody McGinnis, MD
USAAA Scientific Advisory Board Member

Oxidative Stress in Autism: Elevated Cerebellar 3-nitrotyrosine Levels
Increased Mercury and Oxidative Stress in Autistic Brain Samples

Elizabeth M. Sajdel-Sulkowska, Boguslaw Lipinski, Herb Windom, Tapan Audhya and Woody McGinnis, Department of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School and BWH, Boston,MA, Department of Psychiatry, BWH, Boston, MA, Skidaway Institute of Oceanography, Savannah, GA, Vitamin Diagnostics, Cliffwood Beach, NJ, Ashland, OR
American Journal of Biochemistry and Biotechnology 4 (2): 73-84, 2008 ISSN 1553-3468 © 2008 Science Publications

"...the results of the present study add elevated oxidative stress markers in brain to the growing body of data reflecting greater oxidative stress in autism."

USAAA is pleased to announce that Dr. Woody McGinnis, MD, a USAAA Scientific Advisory Board Member, was part of a research team that recently completed a groundbreaking study that compared for the first time the cerebellar levels of the oxidative stress marker 3-nitrotyrosine (3-NT), mercury (Hg) and the antioxidant selenium (Se) levels between control and autistic subjects. The researchers on this new study include individuals from the Department of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School.

"Lead induces oxidative stress and increases DNA damage[29]. PCBs induce lipid peroxidation[30]. Urinary porphyrin profiles strongly suggest heavy metal toxicity in autism[31]."

Role of oxidative stress in the pathology of neuropsychiatric disorders: There is growing evidence supporting the role of oxidative stress in the pathophysiology of a number of neurodegenerative diseases such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Parkinson’s disease (PD) and Alzheimer’s disease (AD)[1]. There is also emerging evidence supporting the role of oxidative stress involvement in autism[2-8]. The support comes from observations of increased lipooxidation markers in blood[2, 4] and in urine[5, 6] and increased nitric oxide (NO)[2, 7, 8] and thiobarbituric acid-reacting substances[2] in autism. There is also evidence for the disruption of antioxidant defense mechanisms in autism manifested by lower than control levels of glutathione peroxidase (GSPHx)[9, 10], by lower levels of plasma glutathione levels and higher ratios of oxidized glutathione to reduced gluathione[11, 12], lower levels of two major serum antioxidant metalloproteins ceruloplasmin (copper-binding protein) and transferrin (iron-binding protein)[4, 13] and lower levels of naturally occurring free radical scavengers[14]. Impaired methionine metabolism is reported in autism and is associated with altered plasma glutathione levels[11, 12]. As stressed by Kern and Jones[3], there is a correlation between antioxidant proteins and loss of previously acquired skills in a subset of children with autism[13].

Click here for entire article.

Analysis of Study by Dr. Mark Geier and David Geier
A recent study, "Oxidative Stress in Autism: Elevated Cerebellar 3-nitrotyrosine Levels" by Sajdel-Wulkowska et al. (2008) was published in the American Journal of Biochemistry and Biotechnology. The researchers on this new study include individuals from the Department of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School. "The present study examined cerebellar levels of 3-nitrotyrosine (3-NT), a relatively specific marker of oxidative damage(.)..." "Many environmental factors have been implicated in autism, including...mercury (Hg)...These environmental factors share the ability to induce oxidative stress." "Urinary porphyrin profiles strongly suggest heavy metal toxicity in autism." "Hg-induced oxidative stress results in oxidative modification of DNA, protein and lipids, as well as inhibition of enzymes crucial for the brain development. Thus, elevated levels of mercury in brain potentially interfere with normal brain development." Tissue homogenates were prepared from frozen cerebellar tissue of control and autistic subjects. Average cerebellar 3-NT levels were statistically significantly elevated in autism by 68.9%. Cerebellar mercury was increased in autistic cases in comparison with controls by 68.2%, and the cerebellar level of mercury relative to selenium was statistically significantly increased by 75% in autistic cases in comparison to controls. There was a positive correlation between cerebellar 3-NT and mercury levels (r=0.80, p = 0.0001). The researchers concluded, "...the results of the present study add elevated oxidative stress markers in brain to the growing body of data reflecting greater oxidative stress in autism."

"This new study further confirms the causative role for mercury in susceptible patients diagnosed with autistic disorders."

This new study further confirms the causative role for mercury in susceptible patients diagnosed with autistic disorders. Clinical evidence for the causal role for mercury in many autistic disorders now includes: (1) elevated urinary porphyrins patterns associated with mercury toxicity; (2) elevated mercury levels in baby teeth; (3) elevated urinary/fecal mercury levels following heavy metal removal therapy; and (4) decreased natural excretion of mercury through first baby hair cut samples. Furthermore, the new study supports previous tissue culture model systems, animal model systems of mercury-induced autistic disorders and population epidemiological studies linking mercury exposure with autistic disorders. Once again, it is time for public health officials to acknowledge publicly, what they have so frequently conceded in private transcripts, that mercury, especially from Thimerosal-containing childhood vaccines and Rho(D)-immune globulins, have pl ayed a significant role in causing many autistic disorders.

Our Children's Brains Part XII: Quirky: Asperger's is the Eccentric Child Syndrome
By Robbie Woliver,

Heather Kuzmich

Betty Marie is 16. She can really be annoying.

First, you must call her Betty Marie. "It is not Betty," she says matter-of-factly. "It is Betty Marie."

Even Heather Kuzmich, a contestant in this season's America's Next Top Model, has Asperger's.

She lectures everyone. She doesn't speak to you, she talks 'at' you. She will stare straight into your face, not always into your eyes, as if there is no space between the two of you. But if you infringe on her space, she freaks out. And she holds grudges.

Mostly symptoms include deficiencies in social skills, and interest in and need for routine, sameness and habit, which often leads to difficulty with change, along with preoccupations and obsessions.

Most of the time she won't laugh at your jokes; when she does, it seems forced. And eruptive. Her mother, Elizabeth, says that if Betty Marie tells a joke, it is usually totally inappropriate to the situation.

Those who know her say she rarely smiles and seems very sad. She has only one friend, Karen, from childhood, who has stuck by her inexplicably. They share a love of male rock stars. Betty Marie would like to one day marry Justin Timberlake.

Betty Marie knows every detail about every male rock star she obsesses over. Every detail.

Click here for entire story.

What About Siblings?

Relationships between siblings are often complicated. That’s especially true when a brother or sister has a disability or is chronically ill.

Children with special needs take a lot of attention from their parents. That means there is less time for others in the family, and it takes a toll on the siblings. These children experience a powerful series of emotions ranging from compassion and empathy to anger, resentment and, eventually, guilt.

Dr. Eleanore Rothenberg, Ph.D., LCSW, CGP sees this pattern expressed time and time again by the children who come to the Sibling Center in New York City.

Dr. Rothenberg opened the Sibling Center in 1998. The center provides a place where children with similar experiences can go and express their feelings and learn how to cope. Dr. Rothenberg combined her experience as a psychoanalyst with her experience as a mother--she has a disabled son and two other children--to create the center.

“I’ve worn both hats,” she says. “I perceived intuitively there was a need.”

The Sibling Center has treated dozens of children in small support groups for young children age 6 to 8 and pre-teens who are 9 to 12. In these groups the children address a range of issues that are unique to their experience as the brother or sister of a child with special needs.

Some siblings develop feelings that they’re not good enough, Rothenberg says. They are burdened with the need to be perfect. They think they can never make a mistake.

Some children strongly identify with the sibling who has the disability. “One boy would imitate his brother who is autistic,” Rothenberg says. Siblings will also imitate learning disabilities that their brother or sister may have. They do it to get attention or because they identify with the sibling.

Click here for the entire story.

How Special-Needs Trust Can Avoid IRA Pitfalls
By KELLY GREENE November 10, 2007; Page B2
The Wall Street Journal Online
Story contributed by
Michael Beloff, CFP® Financial Advisor Estate Planning Consultant

I have designated a special-needs trust as the beneficiary of my IRA. May a special-needs trust be placed in an inherited IRA titled, for example, "Tom Smith Special Needs Trust as Beneficiary of John Smith"? If so, are the required minimum distributions of such an inherited IRA based on the life expectancy of Tom Smith? If not, do you have any suggestions as to how to stretch out the IRA distributions to help ensure some available funds over the years without having to withdraw it all within five years of my death? --Cleo Dana, New York

Yes, you can leave an individual retirement account to a special-needs trust. And yes, it can make withdrawals over the life expectancy of the trust's beneficiary. But it's tricky.

First, some background: A special-needs trust can be a valuable tool for parents trying to plan for the future of a disabled child. Government programs -- the federal Supplemental Security Income program and Medicaid -- cover food, clothing and medical care. But they generally accept only people with less than $2,000 in assets and support only basic needs.

Click here for entire story.
Link for article:

USAAA Expert's Corner

USAAA Expert's Corner is a new section of USAAA WeeklyNews, where we feature information from a leading autism expert.

This week's expert is: Jeffrey Bradstreet, MD, FAAFP

Simplified Evaluation and Treatment of Autism Using Biomarker Directed Algorithms

FDA definition of a biomarker: A characteristic that is objectively measured as an indicator of normal biologic or pathogenic processes or pharmacological responses to therapeutic intervention (FDA Office of Biostatistics, 2006).

While autisms present a complex clinical problem for physicians, it seems to us that the approach can now be streamlined for many children. This is possible as a result of advances in the research on biomarkers. And given the most recent data from the U.S. and the U.K. which reflect that 1-2 % of males under 12 may have autism, a simplified approach is needed for broad application to make it reasonable for mainstream pediatricians and family practitioners.

Heavy Metals: The goal is to reduce the abnormal porphyrins to normal via chelation without depleting vital trace minerals.

Autisms generally have abnormalities in these related and overlapping areas: 1) oxidative stress 2) decreased methylation capacity and limited transsulfation 3) increased toxic burden – primarily of heavy metals and especially of mercury 4) immunological dysregulation with a unique inflammatory bowel disease and immune activation of glial cells in the brain 5) central nervous system hypoperfusion or abnormal regulation of blood supply to the brain. Most children evaluated have ALL of these happening at the same time.

Oxidative Stress: Vitamin C in dose up to 4 grams a day. It is important to follow urinary oxalates if high dose Vitamin C is being used.

These defined abnormalities have broad negative influences on development and can impact secondary features of autism including sensory abnormalities, coordination, cognition, mood, general health, sleep, and gastrointestinal function. Therefore, unless all of the underlying major biological disruptions are dealt with simultaneously, the cyclical negative impact of these problems on each other will perpetuate autism symptoms and delay recovery.

To purchase a PDF file of Dr. Bradstreet's paper, "Simplified Evaluation and Treatment of Autism Using Biomarker Directed Algorithms," that was published in the Conference Proceedings Manual from the USAAA 2007 annual conference, click here. To purchase DVDs, click here. Proceeds go toward USAAA's scholarship fund which allow individuals to attend USAAA conferences.

news from around the world

New autism study centre for Wales
Nov 12 2007 by Abbie Wightwick, Western Mail

AN NEW centre to study autism will put Wales at the forefront of research into the condition, it was claimed yesterday. More than 20,000 children and adults in Wales have autism, which causes learning and communication difficulties, but many more may be undiagnosed, according to the charity Autism Cymru. Wales is the first European nation to commit to a national model for delivering high-quality services and research into the brain disorder.

Click here for entire story.

In This Issue :
›› Oxidative Stress in Autism: Elevated Cerebellar 3-nitrotyrosine Levels
›› Analysis of Study by Dr. Mark Geier and David Geier
Our Children's Brains Part XII: Quirky: Asperger's is the Eccentric Child Syndrome
›› What About Siblings?
How Special-Needs Trust Can Avoid IRA Pitfalls
›› USAAA Expert's Corner, Dr. Jeff Bradstreet

USAAA News Around the World
›› New autism study centre for Wales

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USAAA Parent's Forum

USAAA Parent's Forum is a new section of USAAA WeeklyNews, where you send us your story about your experience with autism and Asperger's Syndrome on a specific topic each week. Whether you're a parent, grandparent, caregiver, or have any experience with autism spectrum disorders, your stories help provide insight into the world of autism.

Next week's topic is: "What behavioral and developmental interventions are helping your child and what improvement have you seen due to these interventions"?

Please send us your story in 500 words or less. Include your full name, email address, and in the subject line include this week's topic. Submissions are condensed and edited. Because of the volume of mail received, not all submissions are published. Information other than your name are kept confidential.

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