Gut Bacteria in Children with Autism Are Different

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There is a distinct connection between changes in gut bacteria and autism, a topic I have written and blogged about before. A recent study presented at the annual meeting of the American Society for Microbiology found that children with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) have different concentrations of bacterial metabolites, or chemicals produced by bacteria, in their stool when compared to children without ASD.

“Most of the seven metabolites could play a role in the brain, working as neurotransmitters or controlling neurotransmitter biosynthesis,” said Kang. “We suspect that gut microbes may alter levels of neurotransmitter-related metabolites affecting gut-to-brain communication and/or altering brain function.”

Of the 50 different metabolites they tested, seven were found to differ between those children with ASD and those without.

“Most of the seven metabolites could play a role in the brain, working as neurotransmitters or controlling neurotransmitter biosynthesis,” said Kang. “We suspect that gut microbes may alter levels of neurotransmitter-related metabolites affecting gut-to-brain communication and/or altering brain function.”

In a nutshell, they think that the bacterial metabolites are altering brain function. The next step would be to determine whether these altered metabolites might be a cause or confounder of the disorder. I certainly wouldn’t be surprised.

In addition, the scientists confirmed that children with ASD had a distinct and less diverse bacterial composition than children without ASD. A lack of gut bacterial diversity has been found in people with a range of health conditions and generally indicates a state of impaired digestive health. That they found less diversity in children with autism is not surprising, given that digestive disruptions are a common finding in these children.

It is my hope that this research leads to a more clear understanding of just what is happening in these children so that we can take more measures to prevent the condition in the first place and even reverse it in certain children. In the meantime, promoting good digestive health in these children is a must. Children with ASDs often do well by taking probiotics, digestive enzymes, and omega-3 fish oils, and by following a gluten-free, dairy-free diet. The Autism Research Institute is an excellent resource for finding a physician who understands how to treat autism by taking into consideration a range of possible contributing factors.

1 Comment

  • labtestsplus

    I see this all the time with the children I treat who are on the autism-spectrum. The issues of digestive problems in autism are quite significant, and the toxicity generated from the bowel that influences them neurochemical is profound. For example, a toxin called HPHPA which is produced from various clostridia bacteria inhibits an enzyme called Dopamine Beta-Hydroxylase which alters dopamine levels in the brain leading to aggression and self-injurious behavior. A test from Great Plains Laboratory called the Organic Acids Test helps to identify this toxin, along with a myriad of other imbalances.

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