Can Gut Dysbiosis Cause Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)?

The diagnosis and incidence of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) continues to rise worldwide with several possible causes being linked to the onset of ASD. This dramatic rise is cause for concern among those in public health. In understanding ASD, genetic and environmental factors such as nutritional deficiencies and gut microbiota come into focus. The gut microbiome is a collection of trillions of microorganisms (bacteria, fungus, viruses, parasites) and millions of genes which are linked to health and disease. In a healthy person, these bugs coexist in harmony, with the largest numbers found in the digestive tract.

Disturbance in normal gut microbiota results in an increase in pathogenic microbes that affect the normal balance and function of the microbiome. This alteration of gut microbial balance is known as dysbiosis and through study we know it contributes to many gastrointestinal conditions, such as inflammatory bowel diseases, functional bowel disease, food allergies, obesity and liver disease. In addition, many clinical studies and research have demonstrated that alterations to the gut microbiota make-up in children with ASD may contribute to both gastrointestinal and central nervous system symptoms due to the “gut-brain axis.”

Dysbiosis is now seen as being associated with the disruption of the mucosal barrier that affects intestinal permeability, which can result in increased inflammation both locally and in the brain. More and more clinical study shows how changes to the gut microbiota act as a possible risk factor for individuals genetically predisposed to ASD.  

Research also indicates that antibiotic treatments, even if taken for a brief period of time, can result in dysbiosis altering the gut microbiota. Studies have demonstrated that children treated with antibiotics during the first 3 years of life have different gut microbiome compositions resulting in significant alteration. Furthermore, dysbiosis may influence the nervous system and autism behaviour by modulating the gut-brain axis. 

To summarize, clinical data has hypothesized a correlation with gut dysbiosis and individuals with ASD. There is today, a number of studies underway and going forward, more study is needed to provide more clinical insight into the causes of dysbiosis and how those factors can be overcome to resolve the associated inflammation and worsening of symptoms and behaviours.  

Fecal Microbiota Transplants (FMT) continue to be a promising approach to resolve gut dysbiosis and significantly reduce both digestive and autism specific symptoms and behaviours.

Our primary treatment focus at Novel Biome is in supporting autistic children who suffer from digestive symptoms and significant microbiome imbalance to restore their microbiome through FMT. You can learn more about our approach to treatment by going here.

In health,
Team Novel Biome


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