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More Evidence Suggests Gut Bacteria Could Relieve Autism Symptoms

The influence of human gut flora is far-reaching. Rebecca D Harris/Wellcome Collection CC BY 4.0

The influence of human gut flora is far-reaching. Rebecca D Harris/Wellcome Collection CC BY 4.0

It has been approved by recent scientific research discovery that the gut microbiome – the community of microorganisms living  peacefully in the human digestive tract – can affect people’s behavior to a surprisingly profound degree.

At present, the researchers from the Ohio State University have found new evidence showing that certain autism symptoms might be related to a certain mix of gut bacteria. Based on the work made in the past, their latest findings reinforce the theory that some autism symptoms (behavioral symptoms included), improve if a new bunch of bacteria is introduced into the gut via a poop transplant. It is more incredible that the positive results seem long-lasting, with continuous effect even in the years after the fecal transplant.

The first leg of the research, released by the journal of Microbiome, was completed last year. The scientists analyzed the gut biomes of 18 children (a fairly small sample size) with autism and gastrointestinal problems, as well as a group of children without autism as a control. They conducted fecal transplants onto the children over a period of week, making notes about the results. In just eight weeks, the children with autism experienced improvements in both their behavioral and gastrointestinal symptoms.

As lead author Ann Gregory, a microbiology graduate student at the Ohio State University, said, transplants were working for people with other gastrointestinal problems. And, with autism, gastrointestinal symptoms were often severe, therefore they  thought this method might be valuable in the future. Following treatment, we found a positive change in GI [gastrointestinal] symptoms and neurological symptoms overall.

Science News also reported that the researchers presented a follow-up to this study at the Beneficial Microbes Conference held recently. It was surprisingly found by the researchers that the fecal transplants appeared to have a profound effect over two years after they were administered. According to their follow-up, scores on a gastrointestinal-symptom scale remained over 60 percent better than they were before the transplants. This dominating effect was put down to the fact that the children managed to hold onto Prevotella and other beneficial bacteria gained from the transplant.

Although It is a remarkable stuff without any doubt , the results should not be overstated at the moment, because this is not a “cure” for autism. The scientists admitted that they tested the transplants on a very small scale regarding to number of children. Most importantly, there was also no definitive way for the study to prove that the behavioral improvements were a direct result of the transplant. Before any grand conclusions are reached, much more work should be done to understand how fecal transplants work on a cellular level in regard to various conditions and ailments. Even in this case, the research is quite promising, for it offers, at the very least, another fascinating insight into the power of gut bacteria.



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