News / Health

    Research Suggests Gut Microbes Impact Autism

    Research Suggests Gut Microbes Impact Autismi
    X
    Shelley Schlender
    July 08, 2014 3:49 PM
    New research suggests children with autism tend to have a less diverse population of gut microbes than other children. Scientists suspect modern practices, including eating processed foods and overuse of antibiotics, are feeding the problem. Shelly Schlender reports from Boulder, Colorado.
    Shelley Schlender

    New research suggests children with autism tend to have a less diverse population of gut microbes than other children. Scientists suspect modern practices, including eating processed foods and overuse of antibiotics, are feeding the problem.

    Autism is a developmental disability that affects a person’s behavior as well as social and communication skills.

    People with autism are also more prone to digestive upsets. Parker, a 14-year-old student at the Temple Grandin School in Boulder, Colorado, says his digestive problems improved when he gave up milk and wheat. Then his mood improved, too.

    "I think I definitely got a little less grumpy all the time, and like less rigid and argumentative," he said. "Yeah.  I think it definitely, definitely changed how I am like mood wise and neurologically, how I functioned in life.”

    His classmate, Russell, who also has autism, suspects Parker's food choices affected the bacteria and microbes that live inside the human digestive tract.

    “Per cell count you have got more bacteria in you and on you than you do cells," Russell said. "You want diversity in your gut.  A lot of different things digesting your food for you.”

    The human digestive tract is home to trillions of microbes and a growing number of studies indicate that promoting friendly gut microbes, like bacteroides fragilis, might be good.

    Bacteroides fragilis improves anxiety-like behavior, it improves repetitive behavior.  It improves communication in the mouse models,” said Sarkis Mazmanian.

    The UCLA scientist says feeding the microbe to mice specially-bred to exhibit autistic disorders improved their digestive health, and virtually eliminated their anxiety, a finding that has far-reaching implications for humans.

    “It is very speculative, probably very controversial, that at least in a subset of autistic subjects, autism is not solely a disease of the brain, but perhaps the issues in the gut are contributing to autistic behavior, and if you can address the gastrointestinal symptoms, that you could have improvements in behavior,” Mazmanian said.

    Autism rates in the United States have nearly tripled since 2000, according to the Centers for Disease Control, with severe forms leading to complete withdrawal from social contact, profound mental retardation, and overwhelming anxiety. 

    Scientists at Arizona State University hold another piece of the puzzle when it comes to bridging the gap between research in animals and results in humans. .

    “Most of the people looking for microbes in the intestines in the kids with autism were looking for pathogens," said researcher Rosa Krajmalnik-Brown. "We are looking for if they are missing good microbes, and that is what we found.”

    Krajmalnik-Brown's lab has documented that children with autism tend to have a less diverse population of gut microbes than a typical child. One of the many missing microbes is Prevotella, which may keep “bad bugs” from becoming bullies.

    James Adams directs the school's Autism Asbergers Research Program. 

    "Our hypothesis is that it’s a lack of beneficial bacteria that make you more vulnerable to pathogenic bacteria, and kids with autism may have different pathogens," he said.

    He says the autism epidemic may have roots in the many ways modern life harms a healthy gut community: too many processed foods, pesticides, plus a high use of antibiotics in livestock, and in kids. 

    "One of the major differences in medical histories of children with autism is that they have received two to three times as many oral antibiotics as typical children," Adams said.

    All these researchers agree there is much more to solving the puzzle linking digestion, microbes and autism.  But they believe they are on a promising path, and their discoveries might also help with other mood disorders, including depression and schizophrenia. 

     

    You May Like

    Mother of IS Supporter: Son Was Peaceful, 'Role Model'

    Somali-American Abdirizak Mohamed Warsame pleaded guilty Thursday to charges of conspiring to provide material support to Islamic State militants

    Factions Shift as Civilians Die in Syrian War

    Scenario likely only to further confuse military situation on ground and potentially worsen humanitarian crisis that already has grown to epic proportions

    Presidential Hopefuls Woo Minorities, Evangelicals

    Four GOP candidates to speak at forum at Bob Jones University in Greenville, South Carolina

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Christen from: Michigan
    July 10, 2014 12:53 PM
    @john - here's my question about vaccines and dysbiosis. I've asked my daughters pediatrician and he thinks I'm crazy. My daughter does not have autism, but she did have gastro issues and I gave her a boatload of probiotics starting at 7 months because she puked all the time and wouldn't sleep, just cried from the gas. Probiotics changed everything! Ok, so my question. Is it possible that the small amount of antibiotic that is put in vaccines to make sure nothing bad grows in the serum could actually wreak havoc on little infant guts? We always noticed a upswing in gas about 21 days after her vaccines. Still an issue after probiotics, just not nearly as severe as without.

    Also, checkout the porcine circovirus found in the rotavirus vaccines. Just for an interesting spin on things. With my oldest, I had a c section, formula fed, and vaccinated like I was supposed to for the first 7 months. I added probiotics, gave her fish oil (instead of lifesDHA because of reflux, but it is grown on a fungus so I don't know if that could have an effect) and switched her to a nonGMO, rice syrup based formula. We cut out casein, dairy, gluten, and then corn for 6 months and slowly introduced these foods back into her diet and she can tolerate all now, without rashes or puking. We also did some crazier things (cut down on radiation exposure in the home) and we've been doing very well! My second does not have any similar issues. Could be pure luck and I know that. But I definitely think that the gut is where the smoking gun is. All of the other theories factor in, but only because they screw with the gut! That's just my hunch.

    by: Elena adamoy from: London
    July 08, 2014 4:24 PM
    Wakefield said it all along
    In Response

    by: John from: London
    July 09, 2014 9:16 AM
    I agree the Lancet study showed clearly the gut was somehow driving autism. Now the pragmatics have been solved one question is whether vaccines at that time in the UK somehow changed the microbiome of those kids.

    Just published in Pediatrics

    "Bifidobacterium predominance may enhance thymic development and responses to both oral and parenteral vaccines early in infancy, whereas deviation from this pattern, resulting in greater bacterial diversity, may cause systemic inflammation (neutrophilia) and lower vaccine responses. Vaccine responsiveness may be improved by promoting intestinal bifidobacteria and minimizing dysbiosis early in infancy. "

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortagei
    X
    February 12, 2016 7:31 PM
    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortage

    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video Gateway to Mecca: Historical Old Jeddah

    Local leader Sami Nawar's family has been in the Old City of Jeddah for hundreds of years and takes us on a tour of this ancient route to Mecca, also believed to be the final resting place of Adam's wife, Eve.
    Video

    Video New Technology Aims to Bring Election Transparency to Uganda

    A team of recent graduates from Uganda’s Makerere University has created a mobile application designed to help monitor elections and expose possible rigging. The developers say the app, called E-Poll, will make Uganda's democratic process fairer. From Kampala, VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
    Video

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video Russia Bristles at NATO Expansion in E. Europe

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is meeting Friday with the head of NATO after the Western military alliance and the United States announced plans for the biggest military build-up in Europe since the Cold War. Russia has called NATO's moves a threat to stability in Europe. But NATO says the troop rotations and equipment are aimed at reassuring allies concerned about Russia as VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video To Fight Zika, Scientists Target Mosquitoes

    Mosquitoes strike again. The Zika virus outbreak is just the latest headline-grabbing epidemic carried by these biting pests, but researchers are fighting back with new ways to control them. VOA's Steve Baragona takes a look.
    Video

    Video Mosul Refugees Talk About Life Under IS

    A top U.S. intelligence official told Congress this week that a planned Iraqi-led operation to re-take the city of Mosul from Islamic State militants is unlikely to take place this year. IS took over the city in June 2014, and for the past year and a half, Mosul residents have been held captive under its rule. VOA's Zana Omar talked to some families who managed to escape. Bronwyn Benito narrates his report.
    Video

    Video Scientists Make Progress Toward Better Diabetes Treatment, Cure

    Scientists at two of the top U.S. universities say they have made significant advances in their quest to find a more efficient treatment for diabetes and eventually a cure. According to the International Diabetes Federation, the disease affects more than 370 million people worldwide. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video NATO to Target Migrant Smugglers

    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.
    Video

    Video Russia's Catholics, Orthodox Hopeful on Historic Pope-Patriarch Meeting

    Russia's Catholic minority has welcomed an historic first meeting Friday in Cuba between the Pope and the Patriarch of Russia's dominant Orthodox Church. The Orthodox Church split with Rome in 1054 and analysts say politics, both church and state, have been driving the relationship in the centuries since. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Used Books Get a New Life on the Streets of Lagos

    Used booksellers are importing books from abroad and selling them on the streets of Africa's largest city. What‘s popular with readers may surprise you. Chris Stein reports from Lagos.
    Video

    Video After NH Primaries All Eyes on South Carolina

    After Tuesday's primary in New Hampshire, US presidential candidates swiftly turned to the next election coming up in South Carolina. The so-called “first-in-the-South” poll may help further narrow down the field of candidates. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video Smartphone Helps Grow Vegetables

    One day, you may be using your smartphone to grow your vegetables. A Taipei-based company has developed a farm cube — a small, enclosed ecosystem designed to grow plants indoors. The environment inside is automatically adjusted by the cube, but it can also be controlled through an app. VOA's Deborah Block has more on the gardening system.
    Video

    Video Exhibit Turns da Vinci’s Drawings Into Real Objects

    In addition to being a successful artist, Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci designed many practical machines, some of which are still in use today, although in different forms. But a number of his projects were never realized — until today. VOA’s George Putic reports.