Improving Gut Bacteria May Reduce Autism Symptoms

A healthier, more diverse gut microbiome may reduce behavioral symptoms of autism.
A healthier, more diverse gut microbiome may reduce behavioral symptoms of autism.
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The study, published in the journal Microbiome, examined 18 children with autism who also suffered from gastrointestinal problems.

After receiving a fecal transplant, the children showed improvements in stomach issues including constipation and diarrhea. Parents also reported positive effects on their children’s behavioral symptoms, like irritability, social skills, and hyperactivity.

There are a few possible factors that may play a role in the link between gut microbiome and brain health, says Ann Gregory, a lead author of the study.

"Some evidence suggests that bacteria in the gut can produce neuro-transmitters such as serotonin that can impact obviously your neurophysiology, and they also can produce different chemicals and compounds that can interact with the blood-brain barrier," said Gregory. "So this is a promising look into this link between the gut and the brain.”

Gregory says more research, ideally larger studies that look at the cause and effect on a molecular level, will be the next steps. She says one of the main goals for scientists is to eventually develop new therapies for both gastrointestinal disorders and potentially autism by improving gut bacteria diversity. 

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