Hot tubs may be on the forefront of autism-related research, says a recently published article by Fox News. The theory, pioneered by lead researcher Dr. Eric Hollander from Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York, is that a disruption of the inflammatory response in the body could be a possible cause of autism, a condition that the Center for Disease Control and Prevention reports occurs in 1 out of 88 children.
Put more intelligently, Dr. Hollander said:
“There’s been considerable evidence recently suggesting that inflammation may play an important role in mediating neuropsychiatric symptoms. There’s a hypothesis called the hygiene hypothesis, which claims that as people move from rural to urban areas, some of the gut flora that are present in rural areas are not present in urban areas, and that might be associated with some immune inflammatory illness.”
The inflammation in question is caused by overactive immune systems, researchers believe.
Since so many children with autism seem to have improvement in their behaviors when they have a fever, Hollander got the idea to mimic fevers by putting children in 98 and 102 degree baths. When you have a fever, the immune system releases anti-inflammatory signals to the body that seem to curtail symptoms in children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).
Hollander found that children in the 102 degree water had noticeably diminished symptoms after being in the water for 30 minutes. The children’s parents saw improvements in both their social communication and repetitive behaviors after that time.
Hollander also did research with TSO or Trichuris suis ova, the eggs of the parasitic whip worm, in high functioning adults with ASD. The subjects, who ingested the eggs via pill (thank goodness), also seemed to be more relaxed in respect to their habits and routine—something those with ASD have a very hard time with.
I think I’d rather sit in the hot tub.
What do you think? Are Hollanders hot tub test findings a breakthrough for autism research?