Treating GI Troubles May Improve Symptoms of Autism

probioticsAccording to several research studies, autism disorders are affected by activity in the gut. Stress and anxiety can create stomach pains, cramps, and spasms, and furthermore, create further issues within the brain. Although autism is an incredibly complex disorder, scientists have found promising clues within the digestive system. Research discovered that there is a significant difference in the bacteria found in the intestines of children with autism in comparison with that of their neurotypical peers.

Researchers at the California Institute of Technology have reported that not only is the gut bacteria in autistic individuals different, but it may actually contribute to the disorder and create some of the well-known symptoms. Although autism is primarily treated through behavioral therapies, new studies suggest that treatment can come in the form of live, “friendly” bacteria, such as probiotics. Paul Patterson, professor of biology at Caltech, states, “If you block the gastrointestinal problem, you can treat the behavioral symptoms”.

One of the primary health issues of children on the autism spectrum is gastrointestinal problems. Previous studies have estimated that upwards of 90 percent of autistic children suffer from a range of gastrointestinal troubles. Furthermore, according to the CDC, they are over 3.5 times more likely to experience chronic pain such as constipation in comparison to their neurotypical peers.

In order to examine why children on the spectrum may suffer from these troubles, researchers at Arizona State University analyzed the gut bacteria in a sample group of autistic children, as well as a control group. They found that the autistic children had many fewer types of bacteria, making the gut more vulnerable to attacks from disease-causing pathogens. Elaine Hsiao, postdoctoral researcher at Caltech, began to study how the gut microbiome may be responsible for autistic behaviors.

To test this, Hsiao and her team of researchers injected a mock virus into pregnant mice. These female mice went on to give birth to offspring with autistic symptoms, such as obsessive grooming, anxiety, and a sense of unawareness. These mice developed a “leaky gut”, in which gut bacteria trickled into the bloodstream and into the brain. As a result, the bacteria leak may have had a significant influence on behavior. Hsiao found that the blood of autistic mice contained 46 times more EPS, a molecule produced by gut bacteria, than in their control group. To treat this, Hsiao gave the affected mice B. fragilis, a probiotic to treat GI symptoms, in their food. Within five weeks, the levels of 4EPS in their blood had plummeted, and the gut microbiome began to resemble that of a healthy mouse. Their behavior also improved dramatically, as they were noted to be less anxious and more aware of their surroundings.

This study provides a great lead to further examine how probiotics may help autistic children with severe GI problems. A clinical trial will reveal if these positive results can apply to humans. Hsiao states, “It’s really impactful, this notion that by changing the bacteria, you could ameliorate what’s often considered an intractable disorder. It’s a really crazy notion and a big advance”.

This entry was posted in Autism America, Autism Awareness, Autism Causes, Autism News, 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>