Autism and autoimmune disease: A family study

  • John Money
  • Nanci A. Bobrow
  • Florence C. Clarke


A family is presented to demonstrate the rare phenomenon of early infantile autism in the presence of autoimmune disease. The youngest son in the family has a multiple diagnosis of autism, Addison's disease, and moniliasis. The next older brother has hypoparathyroidism, Addison's disease, moniliasis, and diabetes mellitus. The next older brother has hypoparathyroidism, Addison's disease, moniliasis, and alopecia totalis. The oldest son and first born child in this family of four is, along with the parents, symptom free. Whereas autism in the youngest son might be attributed to the traumatic family situation, in which there exists the constant threat of near-death, it might conceivably be attributed also to a primary effect of autoimmune impairment from the formation of autoantibodies affecting the central nervous system.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Bettelheim, B.The empty fortress: Infantile autism and the birth of the self. New York: Free Press, 1967.Google Scholar
  2. Blizzard, R. M., Chee, D., & Davis, W. The incidence of parathyroid and other antibodies in the sera of patients with idiopathic hypoparathyroidism.Clinical and Experimental Immunology, 1966,1, 119–128.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  3. Blizzard, R. M., Chee, D., & Davis, W. The incidence of adrenal and other antibodies in the sera of patients with idiopathic adrenal insufficiency (Addison's disease).Clinical and Experimental Immunology, 1967,2, 19–30.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  4. Burnet, F. M.Self and not self: Cellular immunology. Vol. 1. London: Cambridge University Press, 1969.Google Scholar
  5. Cohen, J. A factor-analytically based rationale for the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale.Journal of Consulting Psychology, 1957,21, 451–457.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  6. Cohen, J. The factorial structure of the WISC at ages 7-6, 10-6, and 13-6.Journal of Consulting Psychology, 1959,23, 285–299.Google Scholar
  7. Dohan, F. C. Is celiac disease a clue to the pathogenesis of schizophrenia?Mental Hygiene, 1969,53, 525–529. (a)PubMedGoogle Scholar
  8. Dohan, F. C. Schizophrenia: Possible relationship to cereal grains and celiac disease. In S. Sankar (Ed.),Schizophrenia: Current concepts and research. Hicksville, N.Y.: P.J.D. Publications, 1969. Pp. 539–551. (b)Google Scholar
  9. Eisenberg, L. The fathers of autistic children.American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 1957,27, 715–724.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  10. Eisenberg, L., & Kanner, L. Early infantile autism: 1943–1955.American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 1956,26, 556–566.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  11. Fessel, W. J. Autoimmunity and mental illness.Archives of General Psychiatry, 1962,6, 320–324.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  12. Fessel, W. J. The “antibrain” factors in psychiatric patients' sera.Archives of General Psychiatry, 1963,8, 614–622.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  13. Heath, R. G., & Krupp, I. M. Schizophrenia as an immunologic disorder: I. Demonstration of antibrain globulins by fluorescent antibody techniques.Archives of General Psychiatry, 1967,16, 1–9.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  14. Hutt, S. J., Hutt, C., Lee, D., & Ounsted, C. A behavioral and electroencephalographic study of autistic children.Journal of Psychiatric Research, 1965,3, 181–197.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  15. Judd, L. L., & Mandell, A. J. Chromosome studies in infantile autism.Archives of General Psychiatry, 1968,18, 450–457.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  16. Kanner, L. Autistic disturbances of affective contact.Nervous Child, 1943,2, 217–250.Google Scholar
  17. Kanner, L. Early infantile autism.Journal of Pediatrics, 1944,25, 211–217.Google Scholar
  18. Kanner, L. Problems of nosology and psychodynamics of early infantile autism.American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 1949,19, 416–426.Google Scholar
  19. Kirk, R. Perceptual defect and role handicap: Missing links in explaining the etiology of schizophrenia.British Journal of Psychiatry, 1968,114, 1509–1521.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  20. Lobascher, M. E., Kingerlee, P. E., & Gubbay, S. S. Childhood autism: An investigation of etiological factors in twenty-five cases.British Journal of Psychiatry, 1970,117, 525–529.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  21. Money, J., & Ehrhardt, A. A. Preservation of IQ in hypoparathyroidism of childhood.American Journal of Mental Deficiency, 1966,71, 237–243.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  22. Ogdon, D. P., Bass, C. L., Thomas, E. R., & Lordi, W. Parents of autistic children.American Journal of Orthopsy chiatry, 1968,38, 653–658.Google Scholar
  23. Ornitz, E. M., & Ritvo, E. R. Neurophysiologic mechanisms underlying perceptual inconstancy in autistic and schizophrenic children.Archives of General Psychiatry, 1968,19, 22–27.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  24. Pasamanick, B., & Knobloch, H. Epidemiologic studies on the complications of pregnancy and the birth process. In G. Caplan (Ed.),Prevention of mental disorders in childhood. New York: Basic Books, 1961. Pp. 74–94.Google Scholar
  25. Rimland, B.Infantile autism. New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts, 1964.Google Scholar
  26. Rimland, B. On the objective diagnosis of infantile autism.Acta Paedopsychiatrica, 1968,35, 146–161.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  27. Ross, I. S. An autistic child.Pediatric Conferences (Babies Hospital Unit, United Hospitals of Newark, New Jersey), 1959,2, 1–13.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Scripta Publishing Corporation 1971

Authors and Affiliations

  • John Money
    • 1
  • Nanci A. Bobrow
    • 1
  • Florence C. Clarke
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and Department of PediatricsThe Johns Hopkins HospitalBaltimore

Personalised recommendations