Autism (ASD) and GI Problems – Part 1

Since 60% of our immune system resides in our gastrointestinal (aka, GI or digestive) tract, I have been informing my patients about the importance of gut health for overall health.  In the past several months, I’ve been doing the same through my health blog and newsletter.  Health treatments that include restoring proper GI tract function improves or resolves a long list of health conditions, which include hormonal imbalance, GERD, frequent infections, etc.  This list includes autism.  Yes, autism!  In this article, I will cite the articles that support this, share my conclusions and recommendations.

The microorganism Clostridium has been found in much higher levels in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract of children with autism.  The 2002 article in the Clinical Infectious Diseases journal indicated that autistic children had 9 species of Clostridium not found in children without autism.  The 2004 article in the Applied and Environmental Microbiology journal indicated that biofilms of Clostridium bolteae were 46 times higher in autistic children than non-autistic children.  The 2005 article in the Journal of Medical Microbiology indicated that autistic children had higher levels of Clostridium histolyticum than those without autism.

Based on these articles and other articles found online regarding autism and the digestive system, here are my conclusions and comments:

  1. The deterioration of, or insufficient beneficial GI flora in children may be the cause or the major contributing factor for autism.  Note that some suggest that GI problems may be the consequence of autism. instead of the cause.
  2. Whether it is the cause or consequence, to significantly improve the health of a child with ASD (autistic spectrum disorder), GI tract repair is a must.

GI tract repair means restoring proper GI function, including re-inoculation of the beneficial GI flora with probiotics.

If your child is suffering from autism, I recommend that you read more about the GI tract and then seek the help of a doctor to facilitate your child’s GI tract repair.  I’ll give you some information to start with below, and then you can do further reading online.

In the second article I cited, I mentioned biofilms.  Biofilms are groupings of either beneficial gastrointestinal tract (GI) bacteria, or harmful pathologic micro-organisms.  They secrete a protective slimy layer on mucous membranes.  Probiotic supplements are typically used to restore biofilms of beneficial GI tract bacteria.  Probiotics have the multiple health-promoting properties I’ve discussed in some of the Gastrointestinal Disorders post in my blog and my newsletter articles.

Properties of Biofilms:

  • They gather together in collaborative communities.
  • They come from outside of our body and have to get in through various ways either during or after birth.
  • They may be either beneficial or disease-causing.
  • They protect themselves from our immune system acting on them by encasing themselves in a self-produced “slime”.
  • They are distinct from their kind that live outside of the human body.
  • They can be clearly seen using an electron microscope.
  • They have powerful effects on either the health or disease processes in our bodies.

With my advanced training in gut function restoration through Functional Medicine and Clinical Nutrition, and many experiences in helping patients with restoring gut function, I can assist restoring proper GI function of your child.  Contact me if you have any questions.