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The problem of autism: what can bacteria do?

Last reviewed by: Aleksey Portnov , medical expert, on 19.12.2018
19 December 2018, 09:00

The symptoms of autism in childhood can be corrected with the help of beneficial bacteria.

Bacterial flora that lives in the intestine does not just take part in digestive processes. Among other abilities of bacteria, one can name their participation in metabolic processes, ensuring the quality of immune defense and even the work of many departments of the brain.

With the brain, the microbia binds either through an "intermediary" (for example, through the immune system), or directly through the fibers of the nervous system that connect the brain and digestive structures. Previously it was reported that bacteria in the intestine can influence the state of the psyche - for example, a deviation of the flora composition in one direction or another can increase or decrease the manifestations of depression.

Further more. Separate psychoneurological pathologies - for example, autism , - occur against the background of digestive disorders, the development of which clearly depends on the composition of the microbiome. The well-known fact that autistic children have a relatively poor composition of bacteria in the intestine, in comparison with healthy children. Especially clearly there is a lack of autism of microorganisms such as Prevotella. Their orientation is participation in the regulation of some immunity reactions.

Specialists representing the University of Arizona asked this question: will it be possible to alleviate the condition of children with autism by applying certain bacteria? An experiment was performed with the participation of eighteen autistic patients in the age range 7-17 years. All participants were systematically injected with bacteria present in the microbioma of healthy people for two months.

It is remarkable, but with the beginning of treatment children gradually got rid of digestive disorders and dyspepsia, and at the same time they disappeared some signs of autism. Children became more calm, plodding, they significantly weakened the symptoms of obsessive conditions (for example, repetition of one action). At the same time, their well-being improved even two months after the end of the experiment.

After the completion of the work, the scientists continued to observe the participants for another two years. Some children have digestive problems resumed. But the majority still had a positive trend: the microflora became richer and better, and the symptoms of autism were relieved by about 60%.

Results of the study, scientists presented at the Seventh Regular Infectious Conference, which was held this summer in Madison, Wisconsin.

Many will argue that eighteen participants are too few to make any unambiguous conclusions. However, such results are still very important for science. Researchers believe that it is very important and necessary to carry out further work in this direction.

Details of the study are available at https://www.sciencenews.org/article/gut-microbes-autism-symptoms.

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