The Microbiome and Difficulties with Social Interaction and Repetitive Behaviors In Kids with Autism

This Morning I was reading a research article discussing the importance of the gut microbiome in kids with ASD. It discussed the health and species of the microbiome and its relation to social interactions and repetitive behaviors.

Research Article: Emerging roles for the gut microbiome in autism spectrum disorders. This study was done with the Department of Integrative Biology and Physiology, University of California, Los Angeles.

This was an animal study where they talked about the affects of gut colonization with bacteria in relation to social interaction. Even though it is a study done in mice, we see a very similar issue and outcome in kids in clinical practice.

What the study found was that mice that were clean or lacked a healthy microbiome had more difficulties with social interaction and also produced more repetitive behaviors. The mice that had good inoculation of good bacteria did not have this same issue and they were more social. Something interesting was that when they added good bacteria to the clean mice system their social interaction and repetitive behaviors were improved.

This is also what is seen in clinical practice. It is known that kids with autism have abnormal colonization of clostridium bacteria in their system. Clostridium bacteria have been known to produce inflammatory compounds that can affect the brain. This is also likely why antibiotic treatment seems to improve symptoms in many kids with autism.

I am not a fan of antibiotic therapy because not only does it kill bad bacterial species, it also kills good species. This dysregulation of bacteria in the gut can easily be corrected with the appropriate probiotics and diet recommendations.

What we recommend to help balance gut bacteria and fill the gut with good bacteria is simple. Since there is not good enough data YET to determine what species of bacteria has the biggest impact on ASD symptoms we recommend using a multi strain formula.

According to the research I have read over the past years on the topic we recommend taking over 25 billion CFU’s of a multi strain probiotic that has over 8 different strains in it. The more strains the better, and then rotating this with different strains ever 3-6 months. This allows the gut to get an abundance of good strains that will help kill off the bad strains that cause symptoms and create gut dysfunctions. Using multi-strain probiotics has also been shown to help heal the gut lining and improve immune system function.

Another thing that we recommend is feeding the good bacteria so they replenish and grow! This is done through giving them prebiotics, and most importantly fiber. This is done by eating high quantities of fresh vegetables and fruits. If a child has difficulties eating these foods, supplementing with prebiotic inulin will help, but it is not nearly as good! Another thing that can be added is fermented foods. Fermented foods have probiotics and prebiotics in them. Good examples are sauerkraut, kamboocha, and kimchi.

These things are simple and very affective for improving gut function in kids, decreasing upset stomachs, and improving social interaction abilities. There is much more complex things that can be done as well, but if you can get these things started in a child they go a long way!

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