Reduced intestinal flora linked to kids with autism


A recent study focused on how gut bacteria are beneficial to children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

There are hundreds of species inhabiting the gut, some beneficial and some quite dangerous. Flora seems to involved in everything: digestion, body weight, immune response and the production of neurotransmitters that affect the brain and behavior.

Gastrointestinal issues with autism

“One of the reasons we started addressing this topic is the fact that autistic children have a lot of GI problems that can last into adulthood,” explained Rosa Krajmalnik-Brown, a researcher at Arizona State University’s Biodesign Institute. “Studies have shown that when we manage these problems, their behavior improves dramatically.”

Three flora varieties missing from ASD kids

The research team hypothesized the existence of distinctive features in the intestinal microflora found in autistic children compared to typical children. The study confirmed these suspicions.

Children with ASD had significantly fewer types of gut bacteria, making them more vulnerable to pathogenic bacteria. There were three in particular: Prevotella, Coprococcus, and Veillonellaceae. The discovery could provide new tests for identifying autism as well as suggestions for new treatment. It may even suggest preventive measures which could be taken.

“We believe a diverse gut is a healthy gut,” said Krajmalnik-Brown.

Diet and antibiotics may be contributing

Autism is on the rise. While the increase in numbers may relate to better identification and broader definitions of the disease, many scientists believe there may in fact be an epidemic at hand. While there are hereditary components, Western diet and overuse of antibiotics in childhood may be contributing to the problem by reducing gut flora.

Source: MedicalNewsToday, Arizona State University

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