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The Link Between Autism and Lyme Disease


Originally published in the Public Health Alert, September 2008

The CDC tells us 1 in 150 children have autism and that Lyme disease pops up at the rate of 20,000 reported cases a year. Even mainstream experts agree, however, that cases of Lyme are vastly under-reported.

At the Second Annual Lyme-Autism Connection Conference held June, 2008 in Palm Springs, discussion focused on Lyme-induced autism (LIA). Several experts suggested that at least 70% of the population has Lyme, and that it is being passed to children through congenital transmission, possibly through DNA.

“Most autistic kids have Lyme disease because most docs do not treat for Lyme first to knock it down enough that the white cell blood count can mount an attack and give you something to measure,” said Dietrich Klinghardt, MD, PhD. “That is why it is unknown.”

According to author and herbalist Stephen Buhner, Lyme bacteria consume collagen tissues so the infection first goes to joints and then to the brain where the body has big stores of collagen. That is why research is showing that 20-30% of children diagnosed with autism, are in fact, positive for Lyme disease. This would mean that 150,000 – 200,000 autistic children are undiagnosed and untreated for this disease, hindering the improvement of their autistic symptoms.

“The epidemics of Lyme and autism have gone from mild ripples in the water to roaring, all-consuming tidal waves, destroying thousands of lives and tearing apart countless families,” said Bryan Rosner and Tami Duncan, co-authors of the book, The Lyme-Autism Connection. Our lack of respect for bugs is as much to blame for the epidemics as is human politics.

“One of the most foolish things humans did was to assume that bacteria were not intelligent,” said Buhner. “Bacteria can actually analyze ways to deactivate an antibiotic and give that info to other bacteria they encounter. Lyme seeds every part of the body where it has been with spirochetes. It generates scores of alternate forms of itself to maximize survival.” Lyme is notorious for mutating when hit with antibiotics, antimicrobials and other attempts to kill it.

Electromagnetic Fields - a Silent but Deadly Force

Various doctors at the LIA conference presented research into what is feeding the bugs. One of the top suspects is electromagnetic fields (EMF). “Not enough of us are talking about this,” said Dr. Klinghardt. “The body acts like an antenna for ambient electric fields in the home and these interfere with body functions. Neurons cannot function at higher than 40 microwatts.”

Dr. Klinghardt explained there is a synergistic effect of environmental pollution and EMF and growth of microbes. “We need oxidation to kill the bugs but there is too much oxidation where we don’t need it, in healthy cells, because of EMF. Some of the answers are cheap and effective, but have not clicked yet.”

Dr. Lee Cowden stated that EMF can combine with parasites and fungi to create Leaky Gut Syndrome, a common problem in children with autism.

Some parents who caught on early to the EMF issue report success in removing wireless internet, portable phones, and cell phones from the house - even turning off the household fuse box at night. Clocks that plug into the wall often generate significant EMF and can be replaced with battery operated models. Sleep is the most important time for healing. EMF disturbs the body’s natural sleep rhythms.

There is an EMF shield you can drape over a child’s bed like mosquito netting. And there is an EMF blocking paint, interior and exterior, that can be used to shield a room or entire house.

The Rise of Genetically Modified Foods

Another top suspect in the Lyme-Autism connection is genetically modified (GM) foods where foreign genes have been spliced into the DNA of these foods to make them herbicide tolerant.

“Many of the top researchers at the FDA know how dangerous GM food is but they are not permitted to say anything so, officially, the FDA does nothing to warn us about the potential for serious harm,” said Dr. Garry Gordon. “GM food can help introduce antibiotic resistance and it also carries a virus than can lead to the development of various ‘stealth infections’ which may not be detected on today’s standard tests for infections. This means that although we are all focused on things like lead or mercury or food sensitivities, even the most astute doctors are doing little to combat the ever-present infection component contributing to our current health crisis.”

Dr. Gordon explained that we put the farmers into the game of how big the carrot is, rather than how nutritious the carrot is. “We may have the calories but we do not have the health,” he said. “Mineral deficiencies cause the body to be more acid. And some of these minerals, like selenium, really fight mercury.”

At the LIA convention, parent Andrea Lalama got a standing ovation for her investigation into how GM food contributes to autism because of the the Bt pesticide found in all GM corn. One of her children became autistic after receiving five vaccines in the same day. “I at first blamed the vaccines, but I was wrong,” she said.

She came to understand the vaccines worsened her son’s speech delay problem, turning it into a case of extreme autism.

Lalama channeled her energies into research. She came to see a link between autism and the pesticide, Bt. “During WWII, Bt spores were looked at by the Germans,” she reported. “They saw crystals inside the spores that puncture the intestine of the insect and give Leaky Gut. The bacteria then get out of the intestine. The crystals keep the holes in the intestine from ever growing back together again and healing.”

Bt has been used as a spray pesticide in the USA since 1939. Autism showed up in 1943.

“The Bt pesticide was introduced into genetically modified corn, then potatoes, then fruits and vegetables,” she explained. “In 1995, it was found in human guts. The metabolic pathways in our kids are corrupt.”

Lalama said the increased exposure to Bt modified foods helps explain the jump in autism rates. “Bt also accounts for the disappearing bees, bats, and monarch butterflies. Surviving bees have been studied and found to have lost their ability to communicate with each other. Sounds just like our kids, yes?”

Her research caused her to discover a supplement called bitter orange which contains octopamine, a neurotransmitter found in the octopus and in bees. “We gave it to our kids. In 24 hours, we saw big changes in our children. A week later we got sentences.” Lalama suggests that octopamine replaces communication abilities taken away by Bt modified foods.

Synergistic Effect of Heavy Metals

Several doctors spoke of a synergistic interplay between metals and microbes which creates the biofilm that gives Lyme its unique ability to hide from the immune system.

“Resistant strains of bacteria and yeast produce a polysaccharide matrix - biofilm - to protect them from the surrounding environment,” said Amy Derksen, ND. “It is essentially a layer containing several heavy metals that encompasses the organisms we are trying to treat, making it very difficult to treat without needing doses so high that they would harm our children. The biofilm also prevents normal flora like acidophilus from thriving.”

Dr. Gordon said that is why detox is an absolute must: “We must lower our total body burden of pathogens to help lower our chronic inflammation, which is holding heavy metals in tissues in spite of using the best chelators.”

“It’s important to do genetic testing,” suggested Dr. Derksen. “Many of these kids are born with defects of their glutathione and methylation pathways.”

Looking to the Future

The conference presented a number of different protocols for treating Lyme and Autism. Some incorporated antibiotics while others relied primarily on herbs, supplements or machines.

One thing stood out clearly: there is no perfect remedy. But the better shape you are in when you start treatment, the better the outcome will likely be.

Kim Marott of Corona, California, struggled for years to “fix” her daughter who was seriously debilitated with Lyme. “We tried everything, I felt I was begging in each doctor’s office,” she said. “When we found the Jai machine, it was as if the hand of God had touched her; the healing was amazingly fast. The humiliation patients face has to end.”

Clearly, the epidemics are growing. The LIA conference sounded a warning bell to stop fixating on fixes and start focusing on the causes.

“We know global warming is driving growth of insects for example,” said Dr. Klinghardt.

Environmental pollution, genetically modified foods, and a lack of a nutrient-rich diet are high-risk factors spreading the epidemic. Getting America’s doctors up to speed is no small challenge. Getting medical groups and governmental agencies less concerned about politics and more concerned with delivering solutions is no small challenge.

“It’s up to us as parents and professionals to lead the way,” said LIA conference organizer Tami Duncan. “The doctors who enrolled and spoke at this year’s LIA conference are probably a good five years ahead of their colleagues in their understanding of Lyme and autism. We will persist because our kids are our future and they need our help.”

Next year, LIA’s annual conference will be held in Phoenix, Arizona. LIA will join with CHOICE, an Arizona organization formed by Linda Heming, aka “” CHOICE lobbies for an unrestricted array of choices in healthcare for patients and doctors.

Mary Budinger is an Emmy award-winning journalist. She is a freelance researcher and writer for complementary and alternative medicine.