It is well documented that what you eat affects your overall health. This ranges from fluctuations in your weight to the overall functionality of your brain. Since various parts of your body require specific nutrients in order to develop correctly, could bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract be responsible for the onset of autism? According to recent studies funded by the Autism Research Institute, there could very well be a link between children with autism as well as GI tract difficulties.
Out of the children tested with and without GI difficulties and autism, the results surprised researchers. The onset of autism was a deciding factor in gut microbiomes than actual symptoms of a GI infection. This means that children with autism were far more likely to have a less diverse collection of bacteria in the intestinal tract than the average human being. Instead of altered bacteria levels being more prominent within those suffering from GI tract afflictions, children with autism were considerably more likely to have less important bacteria within the digestive tract.
Lower Levels of Vital Bacteria
After more rigorous tests completed on samples from children, it was found that the genera Prevotella, Coprococcus and unclassified Veillonellaceae in autistic samples were significantly lower than average. These bacteria are important for breaking down carbohydrates within the body. This leads to the inability to metabolize specific foods for nutrients in order for the body to develop properly. It can also lead to an increase of pathogenic bacteria that is usually treated with antibiotics.
The study revealed that an increase of administration for oral antibiotics to autistic children during the first several years of their lives could be detrimental to the development of beneficial bacteria. As antibiotics are used to treat certain illnesses and GI related problems, this could have been inadvertently worsening the development of autism within the child. These antibiotics can eliminate the needed bacteria for digestion while helping pathogenic bacteria colonize on the intestinal walls.
Pathogenic bacteria can be incredibly harmful to the development of a child’s brain as many of these types contain lipopolysaccharide, or LPS. This compound has the capacity to damage brain tissues exacerbating the problems an autistic child may be experiencing. In the laboratory, rats that were exposed to LPS in prenatal cycles had a decrease of glutathione. This antioxidant is responsible for eliminating heavy metallic toxins within the brain. It is speculated that a reduction of glutathione may increase the onset of Autism Spectrum Disorders and other neurological disabilities.
Restoration of Microbiota
Studies that have focused on fecal metabolites and microbiota demonstrate that the diversity of bacteria can be restored and stabilized within a month after antibiotic treatments. Unfortunately, this doesn’t mean that your child will be cured of autism simply by eliminating the medication. Many forms of brain damage are irreversible and the study only provides a glimpse of how intestinal bacteria can play a role in the onset of autism.
Everything you put into your body, whether it is food or medication, directly affects a variety of organs. When you’re pregnant, these can also affect your child as he or she is developing using the nutrients and compounds you’re providing in the womb. Although there is still further study that needs to be completed before a definitive analysis of the actual cause of autism, you should always carefully consider every item you consume. It could be more harmful to your unborn children than you may realize.
Always curious, Ashley Hardway is constantly learning and passionate about sharing what she learns with others. Based in Houston, Texas, she loves to help families grow stronger, help their environments and communities, and keep moving forward! Check out @NannyLady on Twitter to connect and find out more.