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Book Review: “Healing the New Childhood Epidemics – Autism, ADHD, Asthma, and Allergies”

I’ve had a number of eczema and food allergy parents recommend a book to me. “Healing the New Childhood Epidemics: Autism, ADHD, Asthma, and Allergies – The Groundbreaking Program for the 4-A Disorders” by Kenneth Bock, MD and Cameron Stauth. Let me first say that I’m not one to sit down to read any sort of non-fictional book. I’ll admit that I much prefer fictional novels that carry me to a far off world or to another reality. But, I decided to make an exception with this book as it was so highly recommended and it speaks to alternative treatment methods for health conditions that affect my child. So, I put down my copy of Divergent (which was AMAZING) and reluctantly picked up my first ever medical book and set to filling my brain with knowledge.

To my surprise, I really enjoyed it. The book follows the stories of a few families that Dr. Bock treated in his upstate New York practice, while also explaining how the board certified physician came to view autism, ADHD, asthma, and allergies (known as the 4-A epidemics) as being related and treatable, in many cases. The book touches on eczema enough to note that it is often linked with asthma and allergies, so treating one will certainly help the other. From the many cases he’s studied and patients he’s helped treat, Dr. Bock believes that half of all children are susceptible to developing autism, ADHD, asthma, and allergies. Half?! That’s A LOT of children!

The following are factors Dr. Kenneth Bock believes influence a child’s susceptibility to developing one of the “childhood epidemics.”

  • Genetic predisposition.
  • Illness during a vaccination.
  • Acceleration of the vaccination schedule beyond the norm to compensate for missed vaccinations.
  • Taking an antibiotic at the time of vaccination.
  • Exposure to environmental toxins, in combination with the vaccination toxins.
  • Exposure to toxins in utero.
  • Nutritional deficits, or excesses.
  • Exposure to other viruses and bacteria.
  • Presence of other health insults, including candida problems and allergy.
  • A family history of autoimmunity and allergies.

With this extensive list, it’s obvious why so many children are susceptible. Dr. Kenneth Bock discusses the 4-A’s in his book, but I’m going to focus on his views on asthma and allergies in this review.

Asthma

We all know inflammation triggers asthma, but, Dr. Bock points out that many things seemingly unrelated to asthma could trigger inflammation and an asthma attack. Chronic infections like candida/yeast, foods such as dairy and gluten, and exposure to heavy metals such as mercury lead, aluminum, etc, all can be asthma triggers.

Allergies

Dr. Bock states that we all get allergies because of three factors:

  • Nutritional – vitamin and mineral deficiencies, unhealthy gut, lack of essential fatty acids, intestinal hyperpermeability (intestinal walls become too porous, also known as a leaky gut), stomach acid and digestive enzyme deficiencies, too much refined/processed food, and poor eating habits.
  • Immune – immune overload, overactivity of Th-2 cells, antibiotic overuse, hygiene hypothesis (we’re too clean), and vaccinations
  • Inflammatory – distant inflammation (inflammation in the gut causing inflammation in the airways), food (especially those high in saturated fats and ow in essential fatty acids), vaccinations, stress, and infection.

The Healing Program

Dr. Bock is quick to mention and repeat that “there is no one, single approach for all children.” He has a multi-step approach to healing, which is tailored to the unique needs of each child, but he provides a general guide to this program in the book. I’ll just mention the highlights here. He recommends working with a DAN (Defeat Autism Now) doctor, but any medical physician who is open to conducting these tests and listening to your concerns as a parent, would be a great asset for healing your child. I’ve just embarked on this journey with my son, Tristan, and I’ve turned to an integrative MD who is very naturally minded, but still medical board certified (an excellent combination I find).

Please remember that this is just an abbreviated list of items in the healing program. Please read the book to see a full list and speak with your physician before embarking on the program. And keep in mind, this is not a quick fix, slap a band-aid-on it approach. A program like this could take years to complete as it is all about healing your child from within.

Here are the components of the Dr. Kenneth Bock’s Healing Program.

Testing

Tier One: These are general tests which Dr. Bock  recommends in all cases. They consist of basic body chemistry profiles and are routinely performed by most doctors. Some examples are liver and kidney function, electrolytes, calcium and magnesium levels, and thyroid function.

Tier Two: Nutritional and metabolic tests that are generally recommend for most patients. Some of these tests are not routinely performed and may require the evaluation of a doctor who is experienced in nutrition and integrative medicine. Some examples include: mineral counts, urine organic acids, essential fatty acids, and digestive stool analysis. Dr. Bock almost always recommends IgE and IgG food allergy and sensitivity testing.

Tier Three: These tests will only be applicable in certain cases and will be up to the discretion of the attending physician. Each child’s unique signs and symptoms will help the physician determine which tests are right for your child. Some tests in this category are: Immune testing (IgA, IgM), lymphocyte subsets, vaccine titers, thyroid antibodies, and PANDAS profile.

Tier Four: The lest stage of testing, not all patients will need these and they will usually only be done as treatment progresses, not initially. Tier four testing includes, but is not limited to urine testing for heavy metals, urinary porphyrins, and genetic polymorphisms.

Nutritional Therapy – Several diets have proved extremely helpful to many of Dr. Bock’s patients. It may only take one diet or a combination of many to see any changes in your child. According to the book, the diets most beneficial for children with autism, ADHD, asthma, or allergies are:

  • Gluten-Free, Casein-Free Diet (Dr. Bock has seen a 60% improvement in autistic symptoms with children on this diet. He also finds it very helpful for those with ADHD and asthma. He generally recommends this diet for all children with autism, ADHD, allergies, and asthma)
  • Specific Food Reaction Diet (eliminating any known food allergies or sensitivities)
  • Anti-Yeast Diet
  • Anti-Hyperglycemia Diet (eliminating sweet, sugary foods and high-starch foods)
  • Specific Carbohydrate Diet
  • Low Oxalate Diet

Supplementation Therapy – Dr. Bock has ranked the recommended supplements into tiers based on how commonly they are needed by children with autism, ADHD, allergies, and asthma. But again, this isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach, so not all children with asthma are recommended to take the same supplements, for example. It depends on each child, their history, and test results.

Tier One: Basic nutrients needed to thrive, commonly found in multi-vitamins. Recommended for most children.

Tier Two: Some are basic nutrients and some are more specialized and are tailored to each child. Examples are digestive enzymes, melatonin, and Iron. 58% of autistic children in the healing program saw an improvement in their digestive issues when taking digestive enzymes.

Tier Three: These supplements are only for certain children and are generally only recommended after the child has been on the healing program for some time. Some examples are DMAE, creatine, and activated charcoal.

Detoxification – Dr Bock states ” Toxins, more than any other single, isolated element, appear to be the primary root cause of the 4-A epidemics.” Of all the toxins, heavy metals and environmental chemicals are the most destructive. Remember the recent announcements about butylbenzyl phthalate (BBzP) being linked to eczema? He uses a multi-step detox approach, but generally recommend glutathione for most children in order to aid in the detox process. On the extreme end, for some children with autism he recommends chelation.

Medication – I admit that I shy away from most medication these days. It probably all ties back to the fact that my son’s dermatologists tried to convince me that food didn’t play a part in my son’s severe eczema and that dousing him in ever strengthening doses of cortisone was the only way we’d be able to come close to managing his eczema. Well, they were wrong in my son’s case.  I now listen to my intuition and I’m not afraid to ask questions when a medication is suggested or prescribed. Yes, Dr. Kenneth Bock recommends medication as part of his healing process in some cases, but I like his philosophy as he states:

“Medications definitely have their limitations. I almost never use them as stand-alone therapies, because they generally don’t reverse root causes. Frankly, I believe there is far too much reliance upon pharmacology in modern medicine. Doctors and patients too often seem to be searching for the mythical magic bullet. I do not view medication as a panacea. Even so, meds can sometimes do things that other therapies simply cannot.”

Very well said, Dr. Bock. For preventative asthma medication he speaks highly of cromolyn sodium (used to be marketed as Intal) and Singulair because the side effects are much less than with some other asthma medications. For allergy relief medications he recommends Atarax, Zyrtec, Claritin, Singulair, and Nutraceuticals (natural medications such as quercitin and pycnogenol).

Wow, that’s a lot of information!  I was quite overwhelmed by the end of the book. But, I was hopeful. This book made me hopeful that I may be able to learn something from the tests recommended by Dr. Bock and I was excited to work with our integrative MD to get to the bottom of my son’s allergies, eczema, and asthma. Sure, we’ve come a long way from Tristan’s head-to-toe eczema. Removing specific foods, adding supplements to his diet, changing to natural household cleaning supplies and gentle skincare has helped my son tremendously. But eczema still visits my son, his asthma has been flaring more lately, and his food allergies continue to worsen. There is still work to do and I haven’t given up on Tristan. We’ll get there. And with this book I have hope.

One last word from Dr. Bock, “Don’t be overwhelmed. You can sort it all out….You will learn, from your doctor, that you don’t have to use every treatment that exists. Instead, you and your doctor need to carefully individualize your child’s treatment program, choosing only the most appropriate treatments, and applying them at the right time.”

So, you ask, where do you go from here? Pick up a copy of “Healing the New Childhood Epidemics: Autism, ADHD, Asthma, and Allergies – The Groundbreaking Program for the 4-A Disorders” Then find a DAN doctor or integrative practitioner near you, bring the book, and work in tandem to find the best approach to the healing program for your child.

Have you read this book? What was your take on it? Do you agree with Dr. Bock’s approach? If you’ve tried it, did it work for you?

Please note: I was not asked by the publisher or author to review this book and the opinions expressed are my own.

14 Comments Post a comment
  1. Deena –

    That’s really interesting that a dry climate was the only thing that worked for your son – I’m very happy for you that you found the solution. I cannot imagine how frustrated you must have been trying to uncover the triggers. This is the first time I’ve heard that climate alone was to blame, so thank you for sharing your story with us. Jennifer

    Like

    December 29, 2012
  2. Celiac and Allergy Adventures #

    I haven’t read this book, but am interested to read it. Back when I was a kid, allergies and asthma weren’t really “a thing” like they are now. My parents shied away from steroids as well, but there were times where I had to be on oral prednisone for my eczema and asthma. When I first discovered topical steroids in college and they improved my skin, I was kind of angry at my parents for not using them on me when I was a kid. It would have saved me a lot of trauma, bullying and self-esteem issues! I do realize what dramatic effects they can have though, so I do understand why they weren’t too keen on using them. They tried every possible natural and alternative remedy without much help. I still do use steroids (even one of the most potent, clobetasol) on my feet, which is basically the only place my eczema still remains. Aside from side effects, the most frustrating thing about them is that it seems you become “immune” to each one after a while and have to go on progressively stronger and more potent ones. :/

    Like

    November 16, 2012
    • Yes, I certainly understand that steroids can be really helpful for some. I’m glad it’s helped you!

      Like

      November 16, 2012
      • Celiac and Allergy Adventures #

        I really wish I didn’t need them though. I keep hoping that something will come up that isn’t a steroid but will seriously help me. Any suggestions? My insurance only covers doctors, so I can’t really afford to go to a naturopath or homeopath or any type of holistic doctors. I do wonder what long-term topical steroid use does to a person though.

        Like

        November 16, 2012
      • I know, no one wants to be stuck on medications their whole life. Have you heard about red skin syndrome? That’s an example of what can happen to some people that are on steroids for a long time. Here is a guest post about it. https://itchylittleworld.com/2012/07/03/one-moms-eczema-journey-to-hell-and-back-guest-post/

        As far as a really great cream, we found Calendulis Cream to really work for Tristan. It actually clears up his eczema, whereas most creams for us just help to maintain moisture. We love the stuff. https://www.eczemacompany.com/calendulis-cream/

        Like

        November 16, 2012
      • Celiac and Allergy Adventures #

        I had NOT heard about that. OMG. That first picture actually looks like my skin when I was 6-10. That is really scary! And thanks for the link. I think I might try some of that. The ingredients at least seem relatively harmless. Sometimes some of the natural products I’ve tried have somehow made my skin WORSE, unfortunately, so I’m nervous to try them, but I’ll give anything a shot now! Thanks again.

        Like

        November 16, 2012
      • Good luck! Let me know if you decide to try withdrawal. Jennifer

        Like

        November 19, 2012
      • Amanda #

        Thank you! At the moment, I’m a little too terrified to try it. Does everyone who withdraws from steroids experience this?

        Like

        November 19, 2012
      • Yes, from what I understand. If you’re curious, I’d reach out to the non-profit organization that supports those going through steroid withdrawal. It’s called ITSAN.

        Like

        November 19, 2012
  3. I’ve been meaning to read this. It’s good to know our son’s doc is on the right track! This lines up with what we’ve been doing.

    Like

    November 13, 2012
    • That’s great! Then you’ve found a great practitioner.

      Like

      November 13, 2012
  4. This book sounds great! The Doctor I worked for in New Jersey (Annette Cartaxo) had very many patients on the Spectrum as well as behavioral/developmental disorders and food allergies. She was the first MD that I met that took the whole health approach to her patients through diet and supplements. She also has a great cookbook packed with extra information called “Healing Autism in the Kitchen” if you want to check that out as well. In today’s world, I feel that being an informed parent is half the battle sometimes.

    Like

    November 13, 2012
    • It’s so wonderful to find physicians that are willing to look at the whole picture, not just individual symptoms or worrying with simply diagnosing a health condition. It’s also very refreshing as sadly, it’s not very common to find one like this. Great to hear about Dr. Cartaxo! Jennifer

      Like

      November 13, 2012

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