Researchers using high-tech DNA analysis found that children with autism have fewer kinds of intestinal bacteria than do children without autism. However, this reduced “biodiversity” did not relate to the severity of gastrointestinal problems.
Among children with autism, GI problems such as constipation and gut pain are common. Some have suspected that imbalances in intestinal bacterial are to blame. Other research has suggested that problematic gut bacteria might contribute to autism symptoms by triggering inflammation that reaches the brain. Considerable research has shown that intestinal bacteria play important roles in both digestion and regulation of the immune system in all persons.
“While the precise links between the gut microbiome, the brain and autism are not yet clear, we’re certain there’s a strong relationship that affects outcomes and quality of life for people living with autism,” says Autism Speaks Senior Director of Discovery Neuroscience Daniel Smith, PhD. “This study brings us one step closer to understanding this relationship. It also highlights the need to take a ‘whole body view’ to develop autism treatments.”