Can Probiotics Help with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)?

The diagnosis and incidence of Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) continues to rise worldwide. Along with this rise has come an increased focus on the role of inflammation and changes to the gut microbiota as possible risk factors for individuals genetically predisposed to ASD. One possible mechanism to restore the microbiome in children affected with ASD has been treatment utilizing probiotics. Probiotics are living microorganisms that, when administered in adequate amounts, confer health benefits to the host. 

 Because probiotics have demonstrated the ability to reduce gut inflammation as well as associated GI symptoms, studies have been performed to evaluate the role of probiotics in children diagnosed with ASD and inflammatory diseases like IBD.

 Some studies have demonstrated the benefit of using probiotics to treat irritable bowel disease symptoms showing significant reduction in symptoms including abdominal pain or discomfort and bloating. However, bowel movement frequency was not improved. Studies have also shown that probiotics are effective for treating acute diarrhea, which is one of the problems in ASD, irritable bowel syndrome, and functional gastrointestinal disorders.

In a recent article comparing probiotics to FMT in their ability to restore the microbiome, Alexander Khoruts summarized that “at present, FMT products may be the most effective treatments for restoration of decimated microbiota, and we can anticipate the identification of microbiome signatures for FMT products that may be optimal for specific disease indications.”

In summary, the understanding and role of the gut microbiota in GI diseases is increasingly recognized in patients diagnosed with ASD. Interest in treatments to positively affect gut microbiota and its interactions are being studied. It appears that probiotics may represent a low-cost, low-risk, solution to building a healthy microbiome or to restore healthy balance when there is minimal gut dysbiosis. The possible positive effect of probiotic treatment on neuro-behavioural symptoms in children with ASD are still being studied. Limitations that need to be refined include duration and number of probiotics administered as well as consistency of assessment scales used for autistic symptom evaluation after treatment.

 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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