Really, Dr. Snyderman?

Does this really put the gut-autism link to bed as Dr. Nancy Snyderman, who is now a TV star for MSNBC, suggests? Dr. Nancy thinks so. The way she speaks in this interview there is now no doubt that there is any connection whatsoever. Really? You are telling me that a study of 124 children puts the whole thing to bed. That the issue is constipation and they should drink more water. Maybe we should continue to just heavily medicate.

I have some issues with several points:

1. A study of 124 kids is hardly enough to convince anyone that there is no definite connection. Imagine what the conventional physician would say if there was a study done on 124 kids showing that gluten sensitivity promotes the symptoms of autism. Right away, it would dismissed as too small to prove that. Well, this is too small to prove anything.

2. How was the study done? Determining malabsorption and inflammation. By what means? Those are vague assessments at best and I doubt they were doing the type of specialty lab testing that the integrative and functional physicians use for this. And who were they compared to, 'normal' kids. I am not sure the 'normal' American child has all that great of a gut either so maybe there are no major differences in their digestive systems. In my experience, the conventional tests will show positive when a high level of disease is present, not the type of subacute, moderate levels of disease I so often see.

3. Maybe it's constipation. Yes, maybe it is, and Dr. Nancy why is that? Certainly the meds are an issue, but I am willing to bet that if you interview these kids, their constipation started long before the meds did. So how do we explain this? Digestive issues are at the heart of a lot of our societies illnesses and it appears with autism that these kids have a very difficult time with sensitivities to environmental stimuli. Allowing their digestive systems to be attacked by the common proteins in the American diet (gluten, casein), doesn't cause autism, but it certainly can have a major role in irritating their immune systems and piling on the metabolic issues already present.

I am disappointed in Dr. Snyderman reporting with such finality to the issue of a gut-autism connection based on a study of 124 kids. Yes, it may lend some insight and maybe malabsorption and inflammation have little to do with it. Maybe it's something more minor that standard testing is poor at picking up. To close the book on it, as her interview would suggest, leading Americans to manage their kids through medications alone may prove to be a dangerous direction.

Contributed by:

Dr. Jeffrey Gladd


Dr. Jeffrey Gladd graduated from Indiana University School of Medicine in 2001. He then went on to train in family medicine...

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Dr. Jeffrey Gladd
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