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Sunday, August 26, 2012

Inflammatory Disease?

At The New York Times, Moises Velasquez-Manoff suggests that at least one third of autism cases are "a type of inflammatory disease." 
It starts with what scientists call immune dysregulation. Ideally, your immune system should operate like an enlightened action hero, meting out inflammation precisely, accurately and with deadly force when necessary, but then quickly returning to a Zen-like calm. Doing so requires an optimal balance of pro- and anti-inflammatory muscle.
In autistic individuals, the immune system fails at this balancing act. Inflammatory signals dominate. Anti-inflammatory ones are inadequate. A state of chronic activation prevails. And the more skewed toward inflammation, the more acute the autistic symptoms.
No doubt there will be much commentary on this article in the days ahead.  For now, note one specific claim.  The author says that, like asthma, autism is more common in urban areas than rural. But there is an obvious alternative explanation.  It is harder to get screening in diagnosis services in rural areas, so diagnoses there tend to come later and less frequently.