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Gut Microbiota Linked to Autism

autism-spectrum-disorderChildren with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) have significantly different concentrations of certain bacterial-produced chemicals, called metabolites, in their feces compared to children without ASD. “Most gut bacteria are beneficial, aiding food digestion, producing vitamins, and protecting against harmful bacteria. If left unchecked, however, harmful bacteria can excrete dangerous metabolites or disturb a balance in metabolites that can affect the gut and the rest of the body, including the brain,” said Dae-Wook Kang of the Biodesign Institute of Arizona State University. Increasing evidence suggests that children with ASD have altered gut bacteria. In order to identify possible microbial metabolites associated with ASD, Kang and his colleagues looked for and compared the compounds in fecal samples from children with and without ASD. They found that children with ASD had significantly different concentrations of seven of the 50 compounds they identified.

This article appears in the July 2014 issue of Acres U.S.A.

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