Could Gut Bacteria Be the Missing Puzzle Piece to Autism?
Raising a child with autism spectrum disorder can leave parents feeling frustrated, confused, overwhelmed, and even depressed.
These feelings can magnify even more when you feel as though others don’t fully understand the challenge of having a child with autism.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, about 1 in 59 children suffer from autism spectrum disorder.
This prevalence has skyrocketed since 2000 where only 1 in 150 children was diagnosed with autism.
Children who suffer from autism experience the world through different eyes.
They’re faced with challenges with social interactions, repetitive behaviors, and communication issues. This neurodevelopmental disorder appears early in childhood and lasts throughout a person’s life.
Although researchers haven’t been able to identify the exact cause of autism, genetics and other environmental factors play an important role in the development of autism in children.
And studies are showing that environmental factors are more influential than previously believed.
Environmental causes of autism include stress, inflammation, dysregulation of the immune system, toxic exposure, and gut microbiota.
These are just some of the environmental causes that have been linked to this debilitating neuroinflammation disorder. These factors can affect the proper development of your child’s brain, especially in their early years.
So early detection and treatment of autism can also influence the severity of their disorder.
The Role of Gut Bacteria in Autism
The gut consists of trillions of bacteria which have 9.9 million genes. The genes of your gut outnumber your human genes by 10:1 – that’s some powerful information stationed in there.
Gut microbiota house important information for neurological development starting as early as the fetal stages. And a disruption in the gut bacteria can cause neuroinflammation which can influence mood, behavior, and especially autism spectrum disorder.
Your gut bacteria contains 70-80% of your immune system.
So if there’s an imbalance of these healthy bacteria in your gut called gut dysbiosis it can cause a dysregulation of your immune system.
An alteration in the immune molecules and its response, especially in early life development are seen in the brains and periphery of autistic individuals.
Up to 70% of autistic children in one study had gastrointestinal issues which included abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhea, and/or constipation.
They’re also 6-8 times more likely to report food sensitivities, gut inflammation, and altered intestinal microbiota.
And treating these gastrointestinal problems have been shown to relieve some of the autistic behaviors in children.
The gut microbiome starts to colonize during the fetal stages. Maturation of the gut microbiome extends to the infant years and also has a major impact on brain development.
This is why environmental risk factors for autism include:
- Maternal obesity
- Gestational diabetes
- Maternal diet
- Maternal delivery
- Maternal infection
- Overuse of antibiotics in infants
- Breastfeeding and diet of an infant
All of these risk factors for autism can affect the balance of gut bacteria in an infant’s gut at a critical age for development and growth.
Autism: The Gut-Brain Connection
The gut microbiota can influence different neurological outcomes including altering behavior and central nervous system disorders.
This gut-brain connection may influence the onset and severity of autism.
This is because your gut has a direct pathway to communicate to your brain called the gut-brain connection.
And any inflammation, dysbiosis, or toxic exposure in your gut can cause this system to go haywire – disrupting neurological development.
The enteric nervous system – your gut – is directly connected to your central nervous system via the vagus nerve. The intestinal microbes use this direct pathway to communicate to the brain.
Gut bacteria can affect mood, cognitive behaviors, social behaviors which are associated with autism.
Not only do these microbes send signals directly to the brain, but they also send signals through the circulatory system via hormones, neurotransmitters, metabolites, and immune signaling.
This indirect contact through the gut-brain connection also has a strong impact on neurodevelopment which can possibly lead to autism.
Autism and Leaky Gut Syndrome
Intestinal permeability or leaky gut syndrome has been shown to cause a chain of events which can lead to autism in children.
Leaky gut syndrome occurs when gut dysbiosis or inflammation causes an increase in intestinal permeability.
This allows toxins, antigens, inflammatory mediators, and bacteria to slip into the bloodstream – a place where they do not belong.
Harmful toxins and inflammatory cytokines have been found to cross the blood-brain barrier in autistic children.
Once these toxins and inflammatory biomarkers crossover they can affect the neurodevelopmental process in children which plays a significant role in autism.
This is why diet is so important in children suffering from autism.
Diet can affect autism symptoms because certain dietary foods can increase gut inflammation and intestinal permeability. Once this line of gut defense is lost, harmful dietary substances now have a chance to make their way to the brain and impact its health and development.
A dietary change in your autistic child may have a major impact on their autism symptoms.
Foods to avoid with autism:
- Artificial ingredients
- Soy products
Food For the Brain
Your gut microbiome holds powerful information. As babies and infants grow, their gut bacteria can influence the development of their central nervous system.
Any environmental factor which causes an imbalance of bacteria in the gut or even intestinal inflammation can lead to a dysfunction in brain development.
Feeding your gut microbiota to stay strong and healthy has been linked to a healthy central nervous system.
Prebiotics have also been shown to help rebalance gut microbiota, enhance gut barrier, and sometimes reduce autistic behavior in certain individuals.
Atrantil’s organic prebiotic supplement contains polyphenols which are not only great for digestive and overall health but also for helps with reducing gastrointestinal symptoms.
Whether you’re suffering from an imbalance of gut bacteria or intestinal issues such as bloating with/without constipation and/or diarrhea, Atrantil can get your digestion back on track.