This study evaluates gastrointestinal (GI) flora and the GI functioning in autistic and non-autistic children. The flora was tested by cultures of stool samples for yeast and bacteria. GI symptoms, such as diarrhea, bloating, gastroesophageal reflux and constipation, were evaluated with questionnaires for the families. The autism was evaluated by the Autism Treatment Evaluation Checklist.
The study results were that GI symptoms correlated highly with the severity of autism, and suggested that children with more severe autism were more likely to have GI symptoms. Also, the children with autism had lower levels of Bifidobacterium and higher levels of Lactobacillus on stool cultures tested for bacteria.
Short chain fatty acids (SCFA) levels in stool samples reflect the concentration of intestinal flora and the soluble fiber in the diet. These are important to intestinal health. Children with autism revealed lower levels of SCFA, especially for those taking probiotics.
GI symptoms complicate the treatment of autism. The cause of increased GI symptoms in autism is not clear at this time, but may be due to abnormal GI flora resulting from increased use of antibiotics. Children with autism receive more antibiotics than average children for a variety of reasons.
CONCLUSION: Children with autism have more problems with abdominal symptoms and show abnormal flora on testing. Relief of these symptoms is important since they complicate the treatment and care of these children.
NOTE: Read about the connection between diet and T cell immunity.
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