Some researchers suggest that mitochondrial diseases and autism are linked. Unveiling this link could lead to the successful treatment of pervasive developmental disorders.
Linking the Two
The links between mitochondrial diseases and autism exists on a number of different levels. Both of these conditions are enigmatic. They are difficult to diagnose, and they both can affect the brain and nervous system.
Symptoms of autism and dysfunctional mitochondria vary greatly. A person with mitochondria dysfunction may exhibit very mild symptoms like a general dislike for exercise. The symptoms can also be quite severe, including loss of muscle control.
- Autism is a disorder of the brain and neurological system. Some studies suggest that there is a disruption in metabolic energy in the brain. The mind is unable to process information normally.
- Autistic disorders are exemplified by an inability to process information correctly. The autistic brain seems to be wired differently and some studies show inactivity in certain parts of the brain as input is processed.
- Brain energy and Mitochondrial dysfunction can have a profound affect on the way the brain functions. The mitochondria work to provide energy to the cells. The cells are unable to produce enough energy to work properly, resulting in a disturbance in the cells.
The Nervous System
Some researchers are looking to the central nervous system in autism research. The body might not be processing oxygen properly in the nervous system in an individual who has autism.
Oxygen is closely linked to mitochondria because these tiny compartments in cells turn oxygen into energy. The mitochondria are unable to fuel the brain and nervous system properly. This can lead to developmental delays and possibly autistic disorder.
The Hannah Poling case has many parents of autistic children looking to vaccines as a possible aggravating cause behind pervasive developmental disorders. The court found that a higher-than-normal number of vaccines in one visit triggered the child's underlying mitochondrial dysfunction.
Through research, professionals may be able to unveil a concrete link between pervasive developmental disorders and defects in mitochondria. For now, mitochondrial diseases and autism remain mysteries.