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Regressive Autism---A New Hypothesis to End an Enigma?

Posted Jan 01 2014 12:00am

Question mark By Bill Welsh.

It is difficult to imagine a worse scenario than the one experienced by the many parents I have met.

To witness a perfect child gradually lose all his or her skills, regress, and develop distressing behavioural difficulties, often including self injury, should never be visited on any family, but the sad reality is it has been occurring increasingly for over twenty or more years. And as if observing the deterioration of the child is not enough- even worse eventually follows, sometimes years later,—an official diagnosis of autism (ASD)! Parents soon discover that ‘lifelong’, ‘incurable’ and ‘genetic’ are the three words most associated with the condition. ‘Regressive autism’ is a diagnosis wrapped in bleak negativity.

The latest figures for the UK inform us that over 100,000 schoolchildren have an autism diagnosis. Medical officialdom is quick to re-assure society that there are valid reasons for this significant increase in ASD, including for example ‘better recognition’ and ‘widening diagnostic criteria’.

They are mistaken.

Over 70 years ago autism was identified as a new condition, and was regarded as ‘rare’, that is until about 1990 when its diagnosis began to increase markedly. It is now common. No one in medical science has offered a plausible (one that has survived close scrutiny) explanation for the mystery known as the ‘autism enigma’. This is surprising as there are plenty of clues:

Most, but not all, parents have no hesitation in identifying a vaccination event as the forerunner to their child’s gradual withdrawal. With over 1,500 parents taking legal action, in the usually non-litigious UK, during the MMR vaccine episode one would have thought the role of vaccination would have received very close scientific examination. Inexplicably this did not happen. Official focus remained on the need to maintain public confidence in MMR in order to prevent communicable diseases rather than on a thorough examination of parental testimony. Vaccination as a precursor to a child’s descent into regressive autism became a neglected vital clue.

Another disregarded clue was the consistent reporting by parents of auditory processing disorders in their child. Much of what is seen and described as autistic symptoms (sound sensitivity, communication problems, language development etc) have a clear auditory component while it is highly likely that other symptoms (behavioural difficulties, social functioning etc) might have too. Auditory processing disorders are common in these children. Is this another neglected clue?

 A scientific team in the USA carried out a large and important study of twins and concluded that 65% of autism is caused by an environmental factor, leaving only 35% of autism as genetic in origin. This game-changing news, contradicting a long held belief structure, was seemingly ignored!

A, later retracted, gastro-intestinal study of 12 autistic children in the UK apparently identified “a novel form of bowel disease”. The retraction of the study did not dispel the fact that many autistic children experience bowel problems.

In a landmark decision in the USA a child (Hannah Poling) was granted compensation for having developed ASD following multiple vaccinations including MMR.  The court’s decision was complicated by the discovery that Hannah had a mitochondrial disorder which we were told may have contributed to her withdrawal into autism. (It has since been established that many autistic children have mitochondrial disorder). Was this another overlooked lead?

Unrelated to the mitochondria connection another team of scientists in the USA identified  ‘decreased tryptophan metabolism’ in autistic patients. Another clue?

The clues pile up: an environmental factor as the likely cause; it may be associated (not exclusively) with vaccines; it has a partiality for the auditory tract and could also be associated with bowel disease. And amongst all that- mitochondrial disorder is somehow implicated and also tryptophan depletion!

Where to start?

Interestingly, asearch of the literature on veterinary vaccines reveals the serious concern that pathogenic  mycoplasmas, specifically Mycoplasma Fermentans, have generated over many years which may highlight poor ‘quality control’ and a lack of sufficient care in the manufacturing process.  

Laboratory scientists will not hesitate in confirming that Mycoplasma contamination of cell lines is one of the major problems in cell culture technology. This mainly occurs through use of animal cell-based approaches in the making of vaccines (e.g. Measles). Antibiotics are added to the growth medium which tends to stop the more ‘common’ types of bacteria from replicating (such as streptococcus or staphylococcus species) but are less successful with mycoplasmas as this genus of bacteria lack a cell wall. Without a cell wall they are unaffected by common anti-biotics such as penicillins that target cell wall synthesis.

Mycoplasmas are in fact a covert contamination of vaccines, and extremely difficult to detect and eliminate.

How do mycoplasmas interact in the human body?

Mycoplasmas are able to hide inside the cells of the host (patient) or to attach to the outside of host cells. Whether they live inside or outside the host cell, they depend on host cells for nutrients such as cholesterol, amino acids, etc. They compete with the host cells for these nutrients which can interfere with host cell function without killing the host cell.

Let us re-visit the clues:

Mycoplasma fermentans is a known vaccine contaminant.

Limited veterinary research suggests that mycoplasmas may favour the auditory tract. This would not be surprising as mycoplasmas have an affinity for the cilia and stereocilia. Cilia are slender, microscopic, hair like structures or organelles that extend from the surface of nearly all mammalian cells. The stereocilia are the sensory hair cells of the cochlea in the inner ear, they are vital to the function of the auditory system.

Mycoplasmas have been the subject of much research in the area of bowel disease, Crohns Disease and also Reflux, a frequently reported problem for regressive autistic children.

Interestingly, mycoplasmas affect the function of mitochondria. In fact mycoplasma infection competes with the mitochondria and, as well, infects the cells containing mitochondria and the mitochondria themselves.

Mitochondrial malfunction can be a symptom of mycoplasma infection.

Tryptophan is one of the amino acids that mycoplasmas scavenge from their host’s tissues.


Even a cursory examination of the history of mycoplasmas reveals that they are able to hide inside the cells of the host (patient) or to attach to the outside of host cells.

Mycoplasmas are an incredibly malicious and virulent species of bacteria and are not only extremely clever, they are very difficult to trace. Also it is most likely that should mycoplasma enter the human body’s bloodstream they will over time invade virtually any cell they choose, causing a “gradual deterioration” in the patient. And no doubt, like other pathogens, they will target cells (favoured locations) in the host, e.g. the auditory tract, the gut, and the CNS.

It is unlikely that mycoplasma infection will be readily identified using a standard blood test. The nature of the pathogen is that it becomes intracellular therefore a more sophisticated approach to testing is necessary. (The MELISA test hasbeen proposed by some.)

The delay between the child’s early regression and the identification of mycoplasma fermentans as the cause may be a significant factor in the progression of this opportunistic bacterial infection leading to medical co-morbidities.

Parents will be interested to learn that a treatment expressly for mycoplasma infection is currently in phase 3 of clinical development. Medical herbal remedies already exist.

This abridged hypothesis outlines the putative involvement of the pathogen mycoplasma fermentans as a potential aetiological agent and that vaccination is one likely conduit for this covert pathogen and a cause of the symptoms commonly seen in regressive autistic children. It is an abbreviated version of the scientific paper: Mycoplasma Fermentans and deciliation as a precursor to Regressive Autism.(copyright Bill Welsh).

Bill Welsh is the founder and former Honorary President of Autism Treatment Trust, Edinburgh.

Posted by Age of Autism at January 13, 2014 at 12:01 AM in Current Affairs Permalink

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