Autism, Antibiotics, Prebiotics and the Gut


A lot of intestinal issues come about as a direct result of taking a course of antibiotics.  Antibiotics kill off bad bacteria, which is what they're supposed to do. But inside our gut we also have billions of beneficial bacterial too, and antibiotics are unable to distinguish between the two. It's this killing off of your friendly bacteria that leads to intestinal problems.  Those diagnosed with autism are people who also suffer from intestinal issues. Scientists are now starting to join the dots and can see just how gastrointestinal issues have links to the condition.

In the USA there is an estimated 60-70 million people who suffer from frequent digestive health problems. You might think this is down to the typical, unhealthy American-style diet. Though poor diet does play a significant role in gut issues, antibiotics are also a major cause.

In this video, Dr. Martha Herbert talks about The Brain/Gut Connection.

Affects Nine Out of Every Ten with Autism

The numbers are so astonishing. It makes you wonder why scientists have taken so long to make the association between gastrointestinal problems and autism. In fact, nine out of every ten individuals with autism also suffer from intestinal disorders.  Evidence shows that kids with autism also have a somewhat different gut microbiota environment compared to those who don't.

A child with autism will often experience intestinal issues to include:

  • Bloating
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GORD)
  • History of antibiotic usage
  • Irritability before bowel movements
  • Lack of sleep or poor quality sleep
  • Pain and general discomfort
  • Sensitivities to certain foods
  • Spontaneous tantrums or crying fits

As yet, there are still many theories on how the gut bacteria may relate to autism. The question all scientists want to answer is whether or how gut bacterium alters brain development and brain function.

Introduce Prebiotics into the Diet

Research continues, but a lot of attention now focuses on how prebiotics can play a role in supporting the autism challenge. If your child has autism, you might at least want to introduce prebiotic foods into their diet, or probiotic/prebiotic supplements called synbiotics. Be sure to consult the family doctor for guidance before proceeding with any changed to the child's diet.

Here's an interesting abstract from way back in 2002, where scientists were already discussing the potential links between autism and an abnormal gut flora.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12415751

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