Maternal Immune Activation (MIA) and autism

If you have been following our Facebook Live sessions, we have been discussing the most recent report by Dr. Chris Exley of Keele University which seems to state that autism is caused by brain inflammation.  The report is very lengthy and is filled with hyperlinks to other studies, which add weight to his assertions.  In his report, various other doctors and studies are referred to.    I will add the hyperlink to this essay so you can read the entire report.

One of the pathways to brain inflammation is Maternal Immune Activation.   We instinctively know that when we are pregnant, that we are ultimately responsible for the health of our babies.  We are extra cautious concerning foods, places and environments, knowing at some level that all of this affects the gestating infant.  While we are correct to be hyper-vigilant, there are just some things that cannot be controlled.   One of those things is infection.

One of the first points of discussion in this study mentions that when the mother is fighting a severe viral or bacterial infection during pregnancy, there is an increased risk of delivering a child with a neurodevelopmental disorder.  His theory is that the immune response in the mother is changing the way the infant’s brain is being wired, producing core behavioral symptoms in the offspring.  This theory has been confirmed using laboratory animals.

It is thought that the microglial cells in the infant’s brain are activated by the maternal infection.  The microglial cells mediate the immune response.  The evidence points to these microglial cells causing a permanent slow burn in the brains.  Dr. Pardo (as quoted in the paper) in his study states:  “In conclusion, the present PET measurements revealed marked activation of the microglia in multiple brain regions of young adults with ASD.  The results strongly support the contention that immune abnormalities contribute to the etiology of ASD.”

Further in the study, Dr. Exley quotes:  “Dr. Patterson said it, so I don’t have to be the first to bring it up.  He said a vaccination ‘activates the immune system’ and he also told us that ‘immune activation’ can cause autism.”

This is my ‘take away’ from this section of the study.  Vaccines are designed to have an impact on the immune system.  Are we being wise when we are urging pregnant mothers to become vaccinated, knowing that there is a cascading effect from the mother to her unborn child?

Please read the research here:

Until next time,

Dr. Polly