Sunday, February 3, 2013
An Autism Strep Connection?
Many years ago when Dylan was being diagnosed, I remember filling out questionnaires and repeatedly coming upon the question of if I had a strep infection during my pregnancy (I did, strep throat). I cataloged that in the back of my mind as yet another possibile cause of D's autism, but hadn't thought about it much since, that is, until recently, as the events of the past few weeks have unfolded.
Dylan woke up one morning with terrible leg pain. It got so bad he became almost unable to walk. Blood work revealed his inflammatory markers to be 3.5 times higher than normal. The doctors were at first thinking septic hip, and he was admitted to the local hospital and then the next day taken by ambulance (photo) to the Disney Children's Hospital in Orlando. They were planning on possibly doing MRI's, Bone Scans, and fluid extraction, but were undecided and in a holding pattern, because Dylan wasn't running a fever and his leg even started to improve a bit. Then, in what seemed like an episode of "House", some new bloodwork revealed an explanation where none of these test would be necessary. The problem with Dylan's leg was a case of post strep arthritis. Currently we are waiting for results from some heart tests, but even if they come back fine, Dylan will have to be on antibiotics for at least a year. I am happy to say he is doing well and seems to be walking normally now (even though his normal "walk" is anything but normal).
Apparently post strep arthritis is very rare. With that in mind, you can imagine my surprise when my friend Susan Senator, the wonderful author and autism advocate, reminded me the other day that her son Nat, who also has autism, had post strep arthritis when he was 10 years old. ( She had written about this in her first book) It had manifested itself in exactly the same way, with doctors also thinking Nat had septic hip initially. I have to wonder if this is just a weird coincidence or something more, some sort of susceptibility an autistic child might have. Just another reminder of how little we really know about how autism affects the brain, and the body.