News | Academics

Study links autism, intestinal bacteria levels

Researchers at Columbia may be making strides toward understanding the neurological disorder of autism–starting with, of all places, the intestine, according to a recent study.

Dr. Brent Williams, an associate research scientist from the Mailman School of Public Health, headed the study, which examined gastrointestinal disturbances in children with autism. Researchers discovered that children diagnosed with autism that suffer from gastrointestinal disturbances have heightened levels of Sutterella, a type of intestinal bacteria.

After examining intestinal biopsies from his patients, Williams found that Sutterella bacteria existed in more than half of the children who had been diagnosed with autism. In comparison, Sutterella was not found in any normally developing children that also had gastrointestinal, or GI, disturbances.

“There have been reports relating to the prevalence of GI disturbances in children with autism, and those reports have been somewhat inconsistent,” Williams said. “One of the questions that is important to look at is whether the molecular underpinnings of the GI symptoms differ between children with autism and typically developing children.”

Although the correlation between autism and gastrointestinal dysfunction has been explored before, “the link between gastrointestinal and central nervous system dysfunction remains unclear,” according to Mady Hornig, researcher and associate professor of epidemiology.

“Gastrointestinal complaints are a prominent cause of concern and distress among children with autism and their caregivers,” Hornig explained. “Our approach allows us to rigorously investigate whether specific clinical and molecular patterns in the gastrointestinal tract are associated with neuropsychiatric disease.”

Williams and Hornig both said that they plan to work on future studies that delve more deeply into the relationship between GI disturbances and autism.

“We are exploring larger prospective studies where we could control for many factors that could be playing a role in the specific changes,” Williams said. “There is much work to be done toward understanding the role Sutterella plays in autism.”

Hornig added that to test the strength of the correlation, she hopes to expand the research to sample from a larger pool of patients.

“If we saw a close correlation, we would have a better time in accessing a larger population because not everyone will have serious GI disorders to bring to colonoscopy,” she said. “We could study larger populations in a more rapid fashion.”

Dr. Andrew Gerber, co-director of the developmental neuropsychiatry program at the Columbia University Medical Center, highlighted the importance of continued exploration of autism in similar studies, noting that researchers have “not yet put together the larger picture.”

“The field of autism research has really exploded over the last 10 to 15 years,” he said. “What has not advanced significantly, because it is so complicated, is the [understanding of] underlying biological processes.”

Williams stressed that Columbia is at the forefront of the field of autism research. “We are trying to set the bar for the work that needs to be done,” he said.

jeremy.budd@columbiaspectator.com

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Anonymous posted on

Gut-Brain relationship is a well established fact.

Almost all Autistic children have digestive problems including intestinal bacterial overgrowth, yeast infections, food allergies, constipation. 

Autism occurs between the ages 0-3.  During this time if the child was not breast fed, C-section born, has taken a lot of antibiotics, add to it multiple vaccinations at the same time, will result into severe intestinal microflora imbalances.  This intestinal toxicity will hit the brain.  The more these imbalances, the more will be Autistic symptoms.

To conclude, since the child's intestinal flora and immune system becomes well established by the age of 3, pediatricians and parents must do their best to improve the immune system of the child before embarking into evasive protocols such as vaccinations, antibiotics etc.

Probiotics can be effectively used to normalize the intestinal flora and the immune system of the child, before, during and after any antibiotic or vaccinations usage.

A detailed analysis can be found on http://www.customprobiotics.co... and      http://www.customprobiotics.co...

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Anonymous posted on

Yes my daughter who is autistic has a multitude of gut issues. Her CDSA revealed 5 different species of bacteria, large amounts of yeast, gut inflammation, and she has a food allergy to casein, and eggs. I have noticed with probiotics, cod liver oil, digestive enzymes, antibiotics, and diflucan her autistic symptoms have greatly improved. I absolutely believe this area needs to be explored more and have seen results for us. My child had no issues whatsoever before her vaccines and what is ironic is milk allergy's and a host of issues associated with autism run on both sides of the family especially autoimmune diseases.I myself have arthritis.I can only hope more research may unlock this troubling illness that is robbing our children and adults their futures, and unbiased people do the research.

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Anonymous posted on

Here here, well said.  More research needs to be carried out.

An article detailing all the research on autism & gut health to date: http://www.optibacprobiotics.c...

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Anonymous posted on

Perhaps there is a bacteria missing that can be found in the digestive track of an older person from an older generation. Maybe that is throwing everything out of order.

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Anonymous posted on

Wow!! Gut brain connection. It's what bio-med parents have been screaming all along. It's nice that more main stream research is starting to back it up. I think the are a head of the curve on this.

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Anonymous posted on

(parents)

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promag44 posted on

As a parent of a child with sever autism i know the possibility of seeing him live a normal life are remote but any hope through research is greatly appreciated by me and my family to benefit the ones who are affected.

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Anonymous posted on

My son was given a shot of Vitamin D against my wishes , three and half years later when he was diagnosed I remember being shocked of what this shoot did to his Gut Flora. It's no coincidence that the use of Vitamin D shoots have happened at the same time that Autism rates started to raise alarmingly

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the_professer posted on

The overuse of antibiotics has really messed with all of our gut bacteria. A daily dose of live bacteria of the right kind will do wonders for anyone, autistic or not. If you or your child has yeast in your gut, you need to stop ingesting yeasts common to various food, such as bread. 
Amway has the best probiotics I've found one for adults and one for kids. Just saying.

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