Autism and Gastrointestinal Disturbances – Link Established

by Dr. Sania Siddiqui on  May 9, 2011 at 7:23 PM Health Watch
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Children with autism have been reported to present often with gastrointestinal problems that are more frequent and much severe than in children from the general population.

In a recentstudy, Dr. James Adams of Arizona State University and colleagues found strong correlation between gastrointestinal symptoms with autism severity. The study reports indicate that children with severe autism are likely to have more stark gastrointestinal symptoms.



For the study, stool samples of 58 children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) and 39 healthy children of similar ages were taken. Stool testing included yeast and bacterial culture tests, lactoferrin, lysozyme, secretory IgA, elastase, short chain fatty acids (SCFA's), digestion markers, pH, and blood presence. The study reports confirmed that as compared with other children autistic children had -
  • Much lower levels of Bifidobacterium (good bacteria) and high levels of Lactobacillus species;
  • A lower level of lysozyme (-27%, p = 0.03 by Wilcox analysis) but no other significant differences in possible markers of inflammation viz. lactoferrin, white blood cells and mucus; and 
  • Significantly lower levels of short chain fatty acids (-27%, p = 0.00003) maybe due to probiotic usage or due to lower sacchrolytic fermentation by beneficial bacteria, lower intake of soluble fiber, prolonged transit time due to constipation, and/or possibly increased absorption by the gut due to increased permeability.
 The investigators concluded that "the strong correlation of gastrointestinal symptoms with autism severity indicates that children with more severe autism are likely to have more severe gastrointestinal symptoms and vice versa. It is possible that autism symptoms are exacerbated or even partially due to the underlying gastrointestinal problems".

Dr. Adams reported through a news release that, "One of the most striking findings was that children with autism with major GI problems also had much more severe language, social, cognitive, and physical/behavioral symptoms than children with autism and little or no GI problems".

Overall, this study provided an insight of gut bacteria and guts status of children with autism. The results of the study confirms the abnormalities of gastrointestinal function in autism and the likelihood of gastrointestinal (GI) problems in autism being a contributing factor in the severity of the disorder.



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