Previous Findings of GI Problems in Autism Validated
Commentary, by Phillip C. DeMio, MD, Chief Medical Officer,
US Autism & Asperger Association
Salt Lake City, UT, January 13, 2012 - A recent study of gastrointestinal problems in autism, published in the Fall of 2011, and done by authors at Harvard and Columbia Universities has reaffirmed previous dogma regarding gastrointestinal (GI) abnormalities in persons affected with autism: dietary carbohydrate digestion is abnormally low, there are abnormal bacteria in the GI tract, and this is associated with the symptoms of autism. This reaffirms the published findings in autism from more than a decade ago of such groundbreakers as Wakefield, D’Eufemia, and Horvath, all of whom the authors reference.
The recent authors made observations of the gene expression of both the bacteria and the human subjects, as a probe into carb digestion and types of bacteria present in the subjects. This does not mean our affected kids & adults have abnormal genes; rather state of the art understanding says (and the authors discuss) that remnant (undigested) carbs from poor digestion are a bad combination with bad-guy bacteria. This leads to adverse chemical and immunologic influences on the brain, and therefore it at least worsens and maybe causes autistic symptoms. The recent authors come to very much the same conclusion as the previous researchers; they simply used a molecular probe to track the outcome of the digestive and bacterial status of the subjects, which is a slightly newer technique to obtain data.
This work makes an important point: many individuals with autism, (children and adults), have abnormal digestion and abnormal bugs in their GI tracts, and this is a big player in the way they manifest autistic symptoms. Intuitively, and as found here and previously, a fundamental aspect of the treatment of everyone living with autism spectrum disorders is to first recognize these problems in the GI tract and treat accordingly.