Autism May be a Plasmalogen Deficiency Syndrome

January 01, 2023

Autism May Be a Plasmalogen Deficiency Syndrome

Autism is one of the most devastating diagnoses for a growing child, and for the involved family. Its increase has been a puzzle of monumental proportions with few clues to date. Its incidence continues to increase dramatically. (6.7/1000 in 2000 and now 23/1000 - just 20 years later).

It is not an infectious disease. No evidence there. It is not caused by trauma. It is not racially or genetically based that we can tell. (To date). What is it?

What we do know are some incontrovertible facts about food and nutrition. In the last 100 years we have altered our diet with massive shifts in micronutrients. Many of those changes involve the nutrients needed to make proper levels of neurotransmitters and neuro-lipids, otherwise known as plasmalogens. When we had grass-raised animals, we got omega-3 fats in our food chain. Now, all our animals are raised on corn and beans and our intake of omega-three fats has dropped precipitously. You can't make a plasmalogen molecule without the omega three fatty acid called DHA


Our sugar intake has skyrocketed. Sugar shifts our metabolism to inflammation and crowds out other vital nutrients. The proportion of our food made up of ultra-processed food (packaging using many unrecognizable ingredients to sustain shelf life, flavor, color) has also skyrocketed. There is now clear evidence in adults that ingestion of ultra-processed foods results in cognitive decline. Could autism be the result of a lousy ecosytem of food in pregnancy and early childhood? That's what this author believes.

What we do know is that fetuses can't make plasmalogens and depend on them from their mother. The ability to manufacture plasmalogens prenatally only starts about week 30 of pregnancy. The central nervous system is growing rapidly and the demand soars at birth in the neonatal brain. Trillions of axons and synapses have to be manufactured for a newborn brain to start working. The content of plasmalogen lipids in synapses is about 70%, meaning there is a massive demand for that specific nutrient at birth. Each synapse and axon is composed of plasmalogen lipids. Breast milk, particularly colostrum, is a very rich source of plasmalogen lipids. Infant formula has none. And indeed, here is our first clue. Breastfed children have less autism. In fact, meta-analyses of breast feeding studies show, "more breastfeeding, less autism".

Is there other evidence? Well, yes. MRI studies of autistic kids suggest that their brains have a dramatically reduced quality and quantity of white matter. That's the part of the brain composed of all the axons, the wires and links between nerve cells. That is a direct indication of plasmalogen deficiency. We also know that if you experimentally deprive rats of plasmalogens, baby rats are born with all sorts of cognitive trouble.

The link that is still missing are studies that show improvement in clinical status of children with autism when they are given plasmalogen lipids, or in mothers who take plasmalogens as supplements when they are pregnant. But we do have a report of intriguing evidence that children with RDCP (severe genetic plasmalogen deficiency) get better with plasmalogen supplementation.

We also know that autism is highly correlated with brain inflammation. And this may be the Achilles heel that drives autism. Plasmalogens have a vinyl ether bond that helps battle inflammation. That, however, then depletes the plasmalogen molecule. That would then become a feed-forward, self-sustaining loop that continues to promulgate ongoing deficiency and never-ending inflammation.

But this is simple. We know our food chain has altered and deprived us of critical building blocks like fish oil and Vitamin D. Fish oil is a critical component of plasmalogen lipids. Without it, your body can't make plasmalogens. Without adequate B12, choline, folate, and Vitamin D we are in worse shape. Without plasmalogens, a baby can't hook up their growing brain to all the connections that need to be made. Once deficient, the inflamed brain can't repair itself, and the ongoing deficiency becomes self-sustaining.

www.What will Work for me. All the pieces of the puzzle are there, but for a randomized, placebo-controlled trial. But plasmalogens are just food. No toxicity, no side effects, critically important, and currently Missing In Action. Proper research and proof require randomized, placebo-controlled trials that take years. I believe there is an ethical constraint that prevents careless research when there are concerns about toxicity and drugs that are foreign to humans. But here we are talking about food and simple nutrients with no toxicity....what on earth are we waiting for? If I had an autistic family member, I would be buying plasmalogen supplements and trying it out. The risk-benefit ratio is too favorable to ignore. (Along with Vitamin D, B12, folate, choline, fish oil.......)

References: Biological Psych, Jr NeuroSci, CDC-Autism Data, Nutrients, Autism Parenting, Asian Jr Psychiatry, Med Life Discoveries, Pharmaceuticals.

Pop Quiz

1. What is a plasmalogen lipid?                                 Answer: the super-fluid, super-fragile membrane lipid that makes up some 70% of the brain's synapses and axons (links and wires).

2. What do MRI scans of children with autism show?                     Answer: damaged white matter that correlates with severity of symptoms.

3. Can we take plasmalogen supplements safely?                            Answer: Yes. That's like asking if you can eat eggs safely. (Eggs are loaded with choline, a critical component of plasmalogens)

4. Can I just buy plasmalogens off the internet?                             Answer: Well, not quite. You get plasmalogens whenever you eat any animal food. They get digested. Dayan Goodenowe, a brilliant biochemist, has discovered a method of manufacturing plasmalogen precursors that survive your gut and get into your bloodstream and thereby raising your plasmalogen levels. That's the scientific advance of which we can now take advantage.

5. Is this proven to be safe and effective?                        Answer: No, not proven. Just a glimmer of hope and we need randomized, placebo-controlled trials to prove it.