Yeast, The Spring and Regression in Autism and ADHD



 Our youngest has been on a grain free diet since May, 2012, to address a developmental regression he experienced after surgery to correct a severe birth defect.  All told, he has been on 5 rounds of IV antibiotics, in addition to 6 rounds of oral antibiotics.  This kid was FULL of yeast.  His recovery has been tremendous and dependent on a daily probiotic regiment that includes 100 billion probiotics including good bacteria, good yeast and soil organisms.   Even with his incredible developmental gains, he remains extremely susceptible to yeast flares.  Change in seasons, small amounts of sugar, starch or carbohydrates or an immune challenge, can result in a neurobehavioural regression as shown on video I took a few days ago.

 Is your child acting more silly and goofy than usual?

Are you seeing any toe walking?

Does your daughter have itchiness in the vaginal area?

Is your child bouncing, rolling, climbing or playing in ways that puts their head lower than their body?  Upside down play or head down play can indicated a yeast flare or yeast die-off.

Is your child waking up in the middle of the night?  Being silly, upset or bouncing?

Does your child have trouble with self-regulation or controlling emotions?


Real People: Black African American Toddler Boy Tumbling

These behaviours are really common amongst our children diagnosed with autism and ADHD; but more and more we are seeing yeast issues in neurotypical children (children that are developing as we would expect).  Many parents assume that Spring, Easter and the time change are responsible for their child’s change in behaviour but research shows that up to 53% of children with Autism and ADHD have major behaviour changes in the Spring and Fall.  Neurotypical children also experience many of these symptoms and they are treatable and reversible.

Dr. Sonya, does yeast flare in the Spring?

This question, posed by a parent 8 years ago, changed the way I treat yeast and bacterial overgrowth.  It was the statement I needed to understand what was happening in my practice in the Spring and Fall.  Children who were susceptible to yeast or had identified yeast overgrowth would start aggravating, seemingly all at once.  My staff would comment about the influx in calls from parents with concerns about odd behaviours or even regression.  With one insightful question from a parent, the pieces came together and I began to see with crystal clarity the intricate relationship between microbial overgrowth, the immune system and seasonal changes.

There is a known link between the microbes in the small intestine and the body’s immune system.  This is not surprising, as the digestive tract is home to innate immune function, which governs your first response to microbial invaders.  What new research is identifying is the connection to the seasonal patterns of immune reactions.

Our intestines have a barrier system that protects us from infection.  The barrier is supported by good bacteria like Lactobacillus plantarum, Lactobacillus delbrueckii and Lactobacillus bulgaricus.  There is a reason I am listing specific species.  Mounting research, much of it funded by the National Institute of Health’s Human Microbiome Project, is providing us with important information about individual strains, their function and where they fit into our gut ecosystem.

It turns out, there are thousands of different strains of good bacteria in the gut.  The delicate balance of these bacteria supports the intestinal barrier that protects us from microbes that make us sick quickly, and the microbe that can make us sick in a chronic way.  Any damage to the intestinal barrier impacts your bacterial balance.  When certain strains of good bacteria are absent, yeast overgrowth is much more likely.
Signs of yeast are:


  • Demanding
  • Non-compliant
  • Aggressive, emotional, rage, crying easily
  • Stimming
  • Hands over ears
  • Chewing (on everything and anything) and teeth grinding
  • Laughing for no reason, in the middle of the night or spontaneously during the day
  • Climbing all the time
  • Standing on head or hanging upside down all the time
  • Brain fog: giddy super-silly behaviours
  • Loss of energy
  • Seeming out of it
  • Craving for bread, pasta and sweets

Clinical Signs:

  • Rashes
  • Eczema, cradle cap
  • Funky-smelling scalp (the “wet dog” smell)
  • Itching: perianal, genital and/or generalized
  • Redness: perianal, perivaginal
  • Abdominal bloating
  • Increase in flatulence
  • Constipation or diarrhea
  • Change in smell of stool (yeasty, bready, foul or sweet


Factors that increase susceptibility to yeast overgrowth:

  • C-section birth
  • Antibiotics – every round = two years of gut impairment
  • Genetically Modified Foods
  • Processed foods, foods high in sugar
  • Carbohydrates – check out Wheat Belly or Grain Brain for more information
  • Medications
  • CONSTIPATION – yeast thrives in a constipated bowel


Neurobehavioral Disorders Increased by Pollen Exposure in Children with Autism and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

Mar 20, 2005 Download iCalendar

This study, by Dr. Marvin Boris at the New York University School of Medicine,  has demonstrated that many children (53%) with Autism Spectrum Disorder and ADHD exhibit marked neurobehavioral regression during the spring and fall pollen seasons. This shows an association between pollen exposure and central nervous system dysfunction, not related to typical IgE mediated allergies. Pollen exposure may have multifaceted impact on multiple organ systems.


How yeast and clostridia overgrowth contribute to Autism and ADHD.

Sonya Doherty, N.D.
FMAPS (Cand.)