Autism, asthma, inflammation, and the hygiene hypothesis

Med Hypotheses. 2007;69(4):731-40. doi: 10.1016/j.mehy.2007.02.019. Epub 2007 Apr 6.


Inflammation and the genes, molecules, and biological pathways that lead to inflammatory processes influence many important and disparate biological processes and disease states that are quite often not generally considered classical inflammatory or autoimmune disorders. These include development, reproduction, aging, tumor development and tumor rejection, cardiovascular pathologies, metabolic disorders, as well as neurological and psychiatric disorders. This paper compares parallel aspects of autism and inflammatory disorders with an emphasis on asthma. These comparisons include epidemiological, morphometric, molecular, and genetic aspects of both disease types, contributing to a hypothesis of autism in the context of the immune based hygiene hypothesis. This hypothesis is meant to address the apparent rise in the prevalence of autism in the population.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural

MeSH terms

  • Asthma / epidemiology
  • Asthma / etiology*
  • Asthma / genetics
  • Autistic Disorder / epidemiology
  • Autistic Disorder / etiology*
  • Autistic Disorder / genetics
  • Birth Order
  • Body Size
  • Head / anatomy & histology
  • Humans
  • Hygiene*
  • Inflammation / epidemiology
  • Inflammation / etiology*
  • Inflammation / genetics
  • Models, Biological
  • Prevalence
  • Receptors, Adrenergic, beta-2 / genetics


  • Receptors, Adrenergic, beta-2