Researchers have discovered that children with Autism have a very different chemical make-up when it comes to germs within the digestive system, compared to children without Autism. Furthermore, the chemicals produced by bacteria may affect the brain, resulting in more severe symptoms of Autism.
Researchers from Arizona State University are beginning to discover that bacteria, fungi, and yeast that live within our bodies, called microbiomes, are very important to our health, as they affect our vulnerability to infection, affect our weight, as well as possibly play a role in cancer development. Now, researchers state that they play a key role in mental health, particularly in developmental disorders.
The Biodesign Institute at Arizona State University tested 23 children with Autism and 21 neurotypical children, examining the DNA of the different species of microbes found living in their colons. They specifically looked at metabolites, the breakdown products, which they believe are associated with Autism. Dae-Wook Kang of the Institute states, “Harmful bacteria can excrete dangerous metabolites or disturb a balance in metabolites that can affect the gut and the rest of the body, including the brain.”
The study found that the 7 out of 50 metabolites were different in children with Autism than neurotypical children, and some were known to play a role in message-carrying chemicals, called neurotransmitters. Kang states, “Most of the seven metabolites could play a role in the brain, working as neurotransmitters.” He continues, “We suspect that gut microbes may alter levels of neurotransmitter-related metabolites affecting gut-to-brain communication and altering brain function.”
It has been known for some time that Autism disorders have a strong link with gastrointestinal disturbances, but these newest findings serve as strong evidence that children with Autism have a different environment of bacteria in their gut and digestive system. “Correlations between gut bacteria and neurotransmitter-related metabolites are stepping stones for a better understanding of the crosstalk between gut bacteria and Autism, which may provide potential targets for diagnosis or treatment of neurological symptoms in children with ASD”, Kang states.
The ICare4Autism International Conference will be discussing additional medical research and drug development efforts in NYC on July 1st. Speakers include Dr. Gary Steinman, Chairman of the Department of Biochemistry at Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine. Dr. Steinman will be giving a presentation on the potential role of an insulin-like growth factor in Autism. To hear Dr. Steinman speak, please click here. Early bird ticket specials are still available! This is an Autism conference you will not want to miss!