The Correlation between Gut Bacteria and Autistic Behavior

Although people may typically think of autism as a brain disorder, autism can have a significant effect on various parts of the body. In particular, nearly 9 out of 10 individuals on the spectrum suffer from some type of gastrointestinal problem, such as inflammation, bloating, digestive issues, or nausea. For many years, scientists have wondered why individuals with autism typically have abnormal digestion, and why they suffer from intense behavioral symptoms which may result from these abnormalities. Now, new studies suggest that restoring the proper microbial balance could alleviate some of the behavioral symptoms common to those with autism.

Researchers from Arizona State University have recently reported the results of an experiment in which they measured the levels of microbial by-products in children with autism, compared with that of neurotypical children. They found that the levels of fifty substances that were found were significantly different between the two groups. Furthermore, levels of several intestinal bacteria species were significantly altered in children with autism. In particular, they were found to have low levels of Bifidobacterium, which promotes good intestinal health.

Although researchers do not know for sure how bacteria influences behavior, they have reason to believe that having a leaky gut may allow for substances to flow into the bloodstream, causing harm to the brain. Researchers at the California Institute of Technology implemented a study using autism models in mice, and found that by treating some of the autistic mice with Bacteroides fragilis, a health-promoting bacterium, researchers were able to alleviate several behavioral symptoms. These mice became less anxious, and starting using their vocals to become more expressive.

As a result of these studies, doctors aim to focus on drug developments that would implement a healthy microbial balance. Although researchers are hopeful that these studies have provided leads to discovering the relation between autism and a specific system of the body, more studies will need to be conducted to establish how to use drugs to properly restore a balance in individuals with autism. Sarkis K. Mazmanian, biologist, and co-author of the study at the California Institute of Technology, states, “Many more years of work will be needed before we are confident that gut bacteria impact autism and whether probiotics are a viable treatment.”

This entry was posted in Autism America, Autism Awareness, Autism News, Autism Research, Autism Treatment and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>