Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), or autism, is a complex disorder of brain development. Autistic people typically have social interaction challenges, difficulties with verbal and nonverbal communication, and repetitive behaviors. According to Autism Speaks, an organization that works to educate the public about autism and provide help and hope to those living with autism and their families, “ASD can be associated with intellectual disability, difficulties in motor coordination and attention, and physical health issues such as sleep and gastrointestinal disturbances. Some persons with ASD excel in visual skills, music, math, and art.” Most diagnoses of autism occur at age four, though the most telling autism signs and symptoms emerge between ages two and three.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offers data and statistics on the prevalence of of autism:
- About 1 in 68 children has been identified with autism spectrum disorder (ASD)
- ASD occurs in all racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic groups
- ASD is nearly 5 times more common among boys (1 in 42) than among girls (1 in 189)
Gastrointestinal problems are an issue for autistic people, but especially are a concern for parents of autistic children. An article by Jody Goddard cites the GI problems in autistic children, as “recent research shows that more than 50% of children with autism have GI symptoms, food allergies, and maldigestion or malabsorption issues.” Goddard also reports that 43% of autistic patients reportedly have altered intestinal permeability, or leaky gut, meaning “that there are larger than normal spaces present between the cells of the gut wall. When these large spaces exist in the small intestine, it allows undigested food and other toxins to enter the blood stream.” This results in the immune system attacking the incompletely broken down foods, which leads to decreased levels of IgA, which protect the intestinal tract from clostridia and yeast.
That’s why researchers have been studying the link between gut bacteria and autism as well as the benefits of probiotics for people with autism. To help you learn more, we have searched for the top 50 probiotic and autism resources. Our resources come from leading medical and biological researchers and scientists, trusted news organizations, trusted science publications, autism organizations, and parents of autistic children. We have included articles and blog posts, eBooks, fact sheets and guides, infographics, multimedia resources, medical papers and scholarly articles, news reports, videos, and podcasts to help you educate yourself and your family about probiotics and autism. You can also learn more about our all natural probiotics supplements.
While we have listed our top probiotic and autism resources here in no particular order, we have included a table of contents to make it easier for you to jump to the resource categories that most interest you.
- Articles and Blog Posts
- Fact Sheets and Guides
- Multimedia Resources
- Medical Papers and Scholarly Articles
- News Reports, Podcasts, and Videos
Jessica Sachs, director of science communications at Autism Speaks, explores how studies support parent-reported benefits of probiotics. She also examines the remaining questions about using probiotics for autism. Sachs focuses on the 2013 California Institute of Technology’s probiotic study and the excitement that it generated.
Three key points from What’s Next in Probiotics for Autism?
- The number of autism research projects has grown in recent years
- Parents appreciate getting “scientific support for their positive experiences with probiotic foods and supplements”
- While there are no clear-cut answers about probiotics and autism, the increasing amount of research is exciting and promising
Dr. Sonya Doherty, a naturopathic doctor who specializes in ASD, ADHD, Tourette Syndrome, and pediatric OCD, started Treat Autism as “an informational website for parents and professionals looking for the rapidly increasing evidence supporting the medical treatment of Autism Spectrum Disorder, ADHD, OCD and Tourette Syndrome.” Her article, Gut & Probiotics, explains that leading autism researchers believe a factor causing ASD and ADHD is the destruction of natural flora, but probiotics contain healthy microorganisms to balance the good bacteria in the gut.
Three key points from Gut & Probiotics:
- Children’s digestive tracts contain trillions of microbes that play “a key role in promoting development”
- Probiotics contain good bacteria and healthy microbes that promote healthy digestion and regular inflammation and immune function, which help to decrease inflammation that can impact language, social, and cognitive development
- The probiotic recommendation for children with autism is 15-30 billion per day
In this article for National Geographic, Melissa Pandika reports that “the different gut bacteria in autistic individuals may be contributing to the disorder.” Pandika points out that while there still is no definite cause or cure for autism, scientists are finding “promising clues in the gut.” In fact, researchers have found that there are differences in the microbiomes in the intestines of autistic children and those not on the spectrum, and that those gut bacteria may contribute to the disorder.
Three key points from Autism’s Gut-Brain Connection:
- According to Paul Patterson, biology professor at Caltech, Probiotics may be a treatment for autism, because “if you block the gastrointestinal problem, you can treat the behavioral symptoms”
- GI problems are among autistic children’s most common health complains, as some studies show that “up to 90 percent of autistic children suffer from tummy troubles”
- Arizona State University researchers determined that autistic children had fewer types of bacteria in their fecal samples, “probably making the gut more susceptible to attack from disease-causing pathogens”
A leading authority on natural medicine who has published more than 30 books, Dr. Michael Murray offers health and healing answers at doctormurray.com. His probiotics and autism article points to the medical research that shows bacteria in our GI tracts can impact brain function, mood, and mental health. Dr. Murray highlights a study from Finland that shows probiotic supplementation in very young children may lessen the chances for them developing ADHD and autism.
Three key points from New Study Shows Probiotics May Prevent ADHD and Autism Spectrum Disorders:
- Autistic kids may be affected by “the absorption of gut-derived bacterial toxins, [as] an altered gut flora also leads to increased gut permeability”
- Probiotics may positively impact the immune system, thereby reducing the GI inflammation that is so common in kids with ASD
- Dr. Murray recommends that expecting mothers supplement their diets with a high-quality probiotic supplement, continue to do so while breastfeeding, and give infants a probiotic supplement when they are no longer breastfeeding
The Simons Foundation funds the Autism Research Initiative (SFARI), an editorially independent autism news site. In this abstract, Dr. Sarkis K. Mazmanian of the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) explains that a great deal of autistic children have chronic intestinal abnormalities, including loose stool and altered bacterial microbiota. Dr. Mazmanian and his team investigated mouse models that “show autism-like features to evaluate the efficacy of probiotics.”
Three key points from A Probiotic Therapy for Autism:
- Dr. Mazmanian’s team found that certain bacteria “ameliorate autism-like behaviors in both environmental models of ‘induced disease’ as well as in two genetic models of autism spectrum disorder”
- Dr. Mazmanian’s study shows the need to research the link between gut micro biome and altered behaviors
- The study provides a step toward determining probiotics are a safe, effective treatment for autism that includes GI abnormalities
This Body Ecology blog post gives an overview of the Caltech research study, based on research in mice, that led to a patent on probiotic therapy that reduces symptoms of autism. The article also explains how good gut bacteria is an essential component in helping children with autism.
Three key facts from Probiotics May Help Reduce Signs of Autism:
- Changing the inner ecology of mice showed that researchers were able to correct or prevent abnormal behavior
- Some evidence shows that probiotics help to heal leaky gut
- A study of Slovakian children showed that autism severity is related to GI dysfunction severity
In her HuffPost article, Kathleen Miles reports on the implications of the Caltech study that shows probiotics positively affect autism-like symptoms in mice. Their findings reveal that mice given a probiotic therapy became more communicative, less anxious, and less likely to display repetitive digging behaviors. This is the first study that shows gut bacteria changes can affect autism-like behaviors.
Three key points from Autism Symptoms In Mice Decreased With Probiotics, Study Says:
- Unlike the traditional way of thinking about autism as a genetic disorder or disorder of the brain, the CalTech research shows that gut bacteria may contribute to autism symptoms
- The study led to clinical trials of the probiotic treatment on humans with autism
- The researchers recognize that more work needs to be done before a reliable probiotic therapy for human autism is developed
In her Caltech article, Jessica Stoller-Conrad discusses the commonality of Gi issues, such as abdominal cramps and constipation, in those who have ASD. She then outlines the findings of the Caltech researchers who investigated probiotic therapy for autism, as published in the December 5, 2013 issue of the journal Cell. The study focused on the gut-microbiota-brain interaction using a mouse model of autism that earlier had been developed at Caltech.
Three key quotations from Probiotic Therapy Alleviates Autism-Like Behaviors in Mice:
- “Gut physiology appears to have effects on what are currently presumed to be brain functions” ~ Dr. Sarkis K. Mazmanian, professor of biology
- “The B. fragilis treatment alleviates GI problems in the mouse model and also improves some of the main behaviors symptoms” ~ Elain Hsiao, senior research fellow at Caltech
- “In this study, we can provide a treatment after the offspring have been born that can help improve certain behaviors. I think that’s a powerful part of the story” ~ Paul H. Patterson, the Anne P. and Benjamin F. Biaggini Professor of Biological Sciences, Caltech
Robert Smith shares information on probiotics and autism from Simon Carding, who leads the gut health and food safety program at the Institute of Food Research, in this Laboratorytalk article. Carding asserts that humans are “under the influence” of microorganisms in the gut, which affects everything from obesity to diseases and disorders such as autism and Parkinson’s.
Three key points from Probiotics Could Treat Autism, Expert Says:
- A variety of factors come into play when studying the human microbiome and attempting to understand micro populations
- The gut-brain axis is key to understanding neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s disease and autism
- Understanding the gut microbes of an autistic individual could lead to a personalized best course of action that involves using probiotics to treat the autism
Scientific American has been a trusted source for science discoveries and technology innovations since 1845, and Melinda Wenner Moyer’s article on autism and probiotics is no exception. Moyer details the growing body of evidence that points to intestinal microbes as worsening and perhaps even causing symptoms of autism.
Three key points from Gut Bacteria May Play a Role in Autism:
- Recent research shows that nine out of ten autistic individuals suffer from GI problems such as inflammatory bowel disease and leaky gut
- Achieving and maintaining microbial balance could “alleviate some of the disorder’s behavioral symptoms”
- Studies show that probiotics may be capable of altering the microbial ecosystem to restore a healthy balance and prevent leaky gut
In an article for LIVESTRONG.COM, Frankie Smith focuses on using probiotics to relieve some of the GI issues children with autism often suffer. She also points out that it is common for autistic kids to have intestinal lesions that add to their gastrointestinal problems. The good news is that probiotics, harmless microorganisms, promote the growth of good bacteria and help autistic children with digestion and GI issues.
Three key points from Probiotics and Autism:
- Probiotics improve absorption of nutrients
- Probiotics promote the growth of good bacteria and help to restore balance to the intestines
- As children’s digestion improves, they become more comfortable, which often leads to improved behavior
Jean Shaw’s son is autistic and would not eat fruit or vegetables. In her article for Disabled World, she describes how his health suffered because he was not eating properly. When she started her son on a probiotic that contains the entire lactobacilli family, his GI issues dissipated and he began eating fruit and vegetables.
Three key points from Probiotics for Autistic Child:
- When choosing a probiotic, make sure the beneficial bacteria is live so it continues to colonize
- Keep probiotics in a cool, dry location, such as in the refrigerator
- It is best to choose probiotics that contains the beneficial bacteria and the medium in which the culture was grown, or the supernatant, which contains vitamins, enzymes, antioxidants, and immune stimulators
This article from ProbioticsGuide, an online source for probiotics information, explores the possibility for treating and perhaps even one day curing autism with a therapeutic probiotic treatment. The article also explains that researchers have determined that the gut bacteria of autistic children fits specific patters and may contribute to the disorder.
Three key points from Could Probiotics One Day Be the Answer to Autism?:
- Mouse models have shown a “causal relationship between gastrointestinal problems and behavioral symptoms”
- In 90% of autism cases, behavioral problems are paired with gastrointestinal problems
- It is possible that probiotics may not be effective for individuals who have autism but not the associated GI issues
Food Business News covers the food and beverage industry, and their probiotics and autism article reports that Nestle has been exploring whether nutrition could help solve chronic medical diseases. According to the article, Luis Cantarell, head of Zone EMENA at Nestle, cited evidence linking autism with intestinal disorders and said autism is a possible target for new product development at Nestle.
Three key ideas from Nestle Pursuing Nutrition-Based Autism:
- There is an established relationship between autism and healthy gut flora that could be addressed by probiotics
- Nestle is working to provide a solution for autistic people who suffer from GI problems, and Cantarell believes the initiative has a promising future
- Cantarell looks forward to the day when nutrition works in areas like gastrointestinal diseases and brain health
In March 2015, the Leiden Institute for Brain and Cognition shared information about the number of children with ASD who suffer from GI problems and the fact that there appears to be a “predisposition amongst children with ASD to develop GI dysfunction.” The article also cites evidence that autistic children with more severe autistic symptoms have more severe GI problems and explores the possibility of treating GI problems with probiotics to decrease autistic symptoms.
Three key points from Can Probiotics Be Beneficial For Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder?:
- The more severe the autistic symptoms, the more likely the child is to suffer from severe GI problems
- Often, kids with ASD and GI problems are more irritable, anxious, and socially withdrawn
- A study showed that eight out of ten kids with ASD who received probiotics demonstrated a temporary, significant improvement in autistic symptoms
With more than thirty years of experience, Dr. Brian Udell is a leader in the healthcare industry and an autism expert. His probiotics and autism article discusses probiotic supplementation as “one of the most effective treatments” doctors use to treat autism. He also provides a detailed description of probiotics, their functions and side effects, and his recommendation for probiotics in treating autism.
Three key points from Probiotics for Autism:
- Probiotics have the potential to spark a microbiome and achieve “better stool patterns, fewer infections, improved nutrition, less distraction and disrupted behavior”
- The age of the child and their specific GI issues affect the amount of time it takes for probiotics to improve their autism symptoms
- Parents should choose probiotics that contain an assortment of healthy organisms
Autism Speaks provides this article on autism and GI disorders for educational purposes and points out that GI disorders are one of the most common medical conditions associated with autism. The article refers to pediatric gastroenterologist Kent Williams with Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, for advice on probiotics, diet, and autism.
Three key points from Autism and GI Disorders:
- Children with autism are more than 3.5 more times likely to suffer chronic diarrhea or constipation than their normally developing peers
- There is a strong link between GI symptoms and autism severity
- There is growing evidence to support parents’ reports that probiotics help to alleviate GI issues and autism symptoms in their children
Dr. Rob Muller, writing for Psychology Today, offers a detailed discussion of gut flora, probiotics, and autism. He explains that neurologist Natasha Campbell-McBride found that nearly all mothers of autistic children have irregular gut flora, which is important since newborns inherit gut flora from their mothers at the time of birth. Researchers also know that autistic children have a lower quantity and diversity of gut micro fora than healthy children. Therefore, as Dr. Muller points out, probiotics can improve digestive health and, with more study, may reduce autism symptoms as well.
Three key ideas from Probiotics May Help Alleviate Autism Symptoms:
- Probiotics quickly colonize the GI tract and create a glance in gut microbiota by increasing the amount of beneficial microbes, thereby enhancing an individual’s health
- The discomfort associated with the severe GI problems in autistic children often makes their behavior worse
- While reports from parents about the benefits of probiotics for autism are not as valuable as those from research studies, they are “compelling and may eventually lead to definitive findings”
Craig Kendall, author of The Asperger’s Syndrome Survival Guide, delivers this probiotics and autism article from his Asperger’s Syndrome Newsletter. He begins by explaining that a person’s diet will not cure autism, but it can greatly improve an autistic individual’s behavior and functioning. He also reminds readers that there is not a perfect diet answer to autism, but there are dietary guidelines for those with ASD to follow, including taking probiotics.
Three key points from Autism Treatment – Can a Diet Change & Probiotics Help Autism Syndrome?
- Probiotics help to treat digestive symptoms that are a part of autism
- Autistic kids often take antibiotics, which kill beneficial gut bacteria, and probiotics can restore the good bacteria and enzymes that are affected by antibiotics
- Probiotics may be more effective in treating digestive disorders in autistic children than gluten and casein free or specific carbohydrate diets
This NaturalHealth365 article by Sima Ash, clinical and classical homeopath and certified clinical nutritionist, explains that probiotics may help autistic children’s behavior, ability to learn, and digestive health. This especially is important because “the majority of children and adults with autism” experience gastrointestinal issues, ranging from chronic diarrhea or constipation to vomiting, reflux, abdominal pain, gas, and foul-smelling stools.
Three key points from Autistic Children Improve Gut Health Issues With Probiotics:
- The Journal of Gastroenterology Research and Practice asserts that there is “bidirectional communication between the gut, the immune system, and the brain”
- The optimal balance of bacteria is 85 percent good and 15 percent bad to heal the GI tract
- Probiotics benefit children when administered in the correct amounts as food ingredients or as supplements
Dr. Theresa Lyons is on a mission to help parents “eliminate autistic symptoms/behavior in your loved one.” Her probiotics and autism article refers to Bacteroides fragilis, the probiotic used in the Caltech study that shows the gut microbiome influences health and autistic behavior. Yet, she recognizes that parents cannot purchase B. fragilis because it is a pathogen and recommends that parents help their autistic children by changing their diet and using probiotics to improve gut health.
Three key points from A Probiotic Can Ease Autism Symptoms So Why Can’t You Buy It?:
- Science has shown that our gut microbiome affects our health, and there is more research to be done to know exactly how it influences autistic behavior
- The Caltech study shows promising results for using probiotics to treat children with autism
- Probiotics may help treat autism itself, rather than just the GI issues that the majority of autistic children have
This probiotics and autism Daily Mail article reports on a study conducted by the Food Microbiology Sciences Unit at the University of Reading. The study investigated more than 200 autistic children in the United States and the United Kingdom and found that autistic kids had high levels of clostridia, a harmful bacteria, than their non-autistic siblings.
Three key points from Bacteria ‘May Help Autistic Children’:
- The study is leading to more research and trials that will assess the effect of probiotic bacteria
- Probiotics have been used to treat a number of other conditions, so there is support for using probiotics to treat autism
- Probiotics are safe enough to use for children, and, according to Glenn Gibson, professor of food microbiology at the University of Reading, “unlike most other pharmaceutical products there is no risk”
Sandy Hingston’s Philly Mag article on probiotics and autism begins by revisiting Moises Velasquez-Madoff’s New York Times article suggesting that an immune disorder cases autism and the mixed reaction it received. Hingston then segues into the Scienceblog.com post announcing that Caltech researchers used probiotics to alleviate autism-like behaviors in mice. It’s interesting to see the links between the two articles and see how much research is going into autism and probiotics.
Three key points from Study: Could Probiotics Solve the Autism Puzzle?:
- Linking autism to a mother’s prenatal health often results in maternal guilt
- Autism and gastrointestinal issues often go hand-in-hand
- As the researchers continue to study probiotics and autism, they will focus on post-natal probiotic treatments that improve behavioral issues
Dr. Joseph Mercola is an osteopathic physician and health activist who advocates dietary and lifestyle approaches to health. It’s no surprise, then, that he promotes probiotics as “the hidden key to optimal brain function,” including to treat anxiety, depression, and autism. This article details the ways in which the gut may “hold the secret to improving your mood, mental health and preventing other brain-related diseases, like Parkinson’s.”
Three key points from The Root Cause of Anxiety and Depression That Few Suspect:
- Gut bacteria use the vagus nerve to send information to the brain, and in reality, “your gut actually sends far more information to your brain than your brain sends to your gut”
- When a person has a problem in her gut, her mental health is affect to the point that it can cause anxiety, depression, and autism
- Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride refers to Gut and Psychology Syndrome (GAPS), which results from “poorly developed or imbalanced gut flora and may manifest as a conglomerate of symptoms that can fit the diagnosis of autism”
Realnatural is a source of natural health information and research. Their probiotics and autism article by Case Adams outlines findings from various studies regarding autism and gastrointestinal issues. One of the studies showcases the dietetics researchers from Poland’s Wroclaw Medical University who found that autism “is often related to the parent’s or the child’s early nutritional status, along with gastrointestinal issues.”
Three key points from Is Autism Related to GI Problems and Can Probiotics Help Treat Autism?:
- Autistic children have more gastrointestinal issues than non-autistic children
- Autism is associated with multiple types of GI infections, including species of bacteroidetes, actinobacterium, and probacterium
- “Gastrointestinal problems may significantly contribute to autistic symptoms in some children”
An international weekly journal of science, Nature offers up-to-date science news and opinion. Sara Reardon wrote this probiotic and autism article, which emphasizes the Caltech research findings that the gut microbiome plays a role in autism. Reardon gives a thorough backstory on the Caltech research, which built on research previously conducted by Caltech neurobiologist Paul Patterson.
Three key points from Bacterium Can Reverse Autism-Like Behaviors In Mice:
- “It’s incredible that putting this one bacteria back can reverse all these widespread changes” ~ John Cryan, pharmacologist at University College Cork in Ireland
- There are several types of autism in people, so researchers must consider how various symptoms may be affected by different probiotics
- Probiotics may improve brain function in humans
Olga Khazan covers health for The Atlantic. Her probiotics article explores all of the ways in which gut bacteria affects mood and emotions and the possibilities of using probiotics to treat depression, autism, and other neurological and psychological disorders. The final thought of the article comes from John Cryan, a neuroscience professor at Ireland’s University College Cork during a recent TEDMED talk: “Your state of mind might be dependent on your state of gut.”
Three key points from When Yogurt Affects the Brain:
- Microbes can alter humans’ brain chemistry
- Studies show that probiotics reduce autistic symptoms, anxiety levels, and depression
- There is still much work to be done to determine which probiotics are best for certain psychological symptoms
Blogger and autism mom Lisa Quinones-Fontanez is the woman behind Autism Wonderland. Her probiotics and autism blog post recognizes that the gut-brain connection needs more attention. She references a University of Western Ontario study that found diet greatly impacts autistic children to the point of altering their brain function.
Three key points from Why Probiotics May Be Beneficial For Children With Autism:
- Experts believe approximately 85% of gut bacteria should consist of good bacteria in order for proper body function and digestion
- Bad bacteria can be passed on to a child from his mother, especially via his mother’s birth canal
- When choosing a probiotic, look for one that is gluten and casein free, because autistic children often are allergic to them
Dr. Gary B. Huffnagle of the University of Michigan Medical School Department of Microbiology and Immunology, and Sarah Wernick, an award-winning freelance writer, co-wrote this guide to probiotics. Available now as an eBook, The Probiotics Revolution helps people understand how probiotics keep us healthy and explains how they prevent and treat health problems including inflammatory bowel disease, allergies, and autism.
Three key points from The Probiotics Revolution: The Definitive Guide to Safe, Natural Health Solutions Using Probiotic and Prebiotic Foods and Supplements:
- Research shows that the neurotoxin Clostridium tetani creates autistic-like behaviors in animals, and that autistic children who had been given antibiotics that kill Clostridium showed improvement
- Initial success with probiotics in autistic children is leading to more studies
- Probiotic supplements do not have the harmful side effects associated with antibiotics, and probiotic treatments may be used for as long as necessary
A world leader in testing for nutritional factors in chronic illnesses, The Great Plains Laboratory offers the eBook, Biological Treatments for Autism & PDD: Causes and Biomedical Therapies for Autism and PPD, by Dr. William Shaw. Chapter 4 is of especial interest to parents of autistic children, as it thoroughly describes the connection between yeasts and fungi and autism.
Three key points from Chapter 4: Yeasts and Fungi: How to Control Them:
- Byproducts of yeast and fungi frequently are elevated in urine samples of autistic people
- Dr. Shaw recommends using a dose of at least 10 billion cells of Lactobacillus acidophilus GG to control Clostridia overgrowth of the GI tract of any chile over three, and 5 billion cells for younger children
- Dr. Shaw also recommends using a probiotic product any time an anti fungal drug is used
Autism-help.org provides a wealth of free information for autism and Asperger’s families. The probiotics and autism fact sheet is just one of the many resources available on the site. The fact sheet outlines how food and supplements may be used in a probiotic diet to treat ASD, the theory behind probiotic diets, benefits of a probiotic diet, and evidence-based probiotic treatment for autism.
Three key facts from Probiotic Diet As An Intervention:
- Probiotics form beneficial temporary colonies to assist the body in the same functions as the body’s natural flora and allow the natural flora time to recover after depletion
- Autistic children who take probiotics have been known to have increases in eye contact, vocalization, and concentration, plus decreases in hyperactivity and self-stimulating behavior
- Probiotic foods and supplements may be used in conjunction to promote healthy gut flora and improve autism symptoms
This probiotics and autism guide is part of the Autism Speaks blog, and is written by Dr. Alessio Fasano, chief of the division of pediatric gastroenterology and nutrition and director of the Mucosal Biology and Immunology Research Center and the Center for Celiac Research at the Massachusetts General Hospital for Children. As Dr. Fasano conducts research on GI issues and autism, funded by Autism Speaks, he shares his guidance on probiotics and autism online.
Three key points from Guidance on Probiotics:
- Probiotics are a promising potential treatment for GI issues associated with ASD
- Evidence suggests there is an imbalance of bacteria in some autistic individuals, so probiotics may “help bring back equilibrium and health”
- It is possible that inflammation in the gut travels to the brain and affects learning and behavior
This probiotics and autism infographic comes from Yuva Oz, a PhD candidate in biomedical genetics, at Art4Science. The infographic makes use of information from the 2013 study conducted by Caltech researchers on the effects of probiotics in mice models with autism.
Three key facts from Use Probiotics Not Anti-Depressants:
- Mice models with autism gained social, active, and healthy behavior after they were fed probiotics
- There is a known connection between GI tract problems and autism
- Probiotics can help to reduce symptoms of autism
DailyInfographic is a helpful site when searching for infographics, and this probiotics and autism infographic from the Huffington Post is a great resource. The infographic showcases the power of the bacteria that live in humans’ digestive tracts, in relation to imbalances in gut flora and associated physical and mental heath conditions.
Three key facts from How Gut Bacteria Affects the Brain and Body:
- Autism commonly occurs with GI issues such as leaky gut and irritable bowel syndrome
- There are possibly more than 5,000 species of bacteria living in the gut
- Probiotic treatments are appropriate for the GI challenges that accompany autism and may be helpful to treat autism itself, since “consuming beneficial bacteria can also positively change the way the brain responds to the environment”
Jenny Hansen’s report on probiotics and autism highlights several recent studies that show gut inflammation to be a “significant factor” in the cause of both ASD and ADHD. She also discusses study results that point to probiotics as being useful in decreasing the inflammation and alleviating autistic-like symptoms in mice. This probiotics and autism resource also features an embedded video of Elaine Hsiao, one of the Caltech researchers who conducted the study on the mice, giving a TEDx Caltech talk.
Three key points from Autism Studies Show Probiotics May Alleviate Symptoms [Video]:
- Human bodies are comprised of 10 times more microbial cells than human eukaryotic cells
- By treating mice with B. fragilis, Caltech researchers were able to correct core abnormalities like communication challenges, which is a hallmark of autism
- The studies are promising and may one day lead to treating autism, depression, multiple sclerosis, and others in non-invasive ways with probiotics
Rob Stein, correspondent and senior editor at NPR, focuses on health, medicine, and biomedical research. His probiotics and autism multimedia resource includes embedded audio and video to help us understand that gut bacteria affects the brain. Stein provides a comprehensive overview of research studies being conducted to further examine the gut-brain link, including the Caltech study of autistic-like mice and the effects of probiotics.
Three key points from Gut Bacteria Might Guide The Workings Of Our Minds:
- Dr. Emeran Mayer thinks digestive system bacteria “may help mold brain structure as we’re growing up, and possibly influence our moods, behavior and feelings when we’re adults”
- Microbes do not cause changes in brain structure
- Scientists may one day know exactly which probiotics to give to people to prevent or treat problems that involve the brain, including autism
Dedicated to the health of children, the American Academy of Pediatrics publishes Pediatrics, its official journal. This medial journal article appeared in Pediatrics online in April 2014 and reports on the meta-analysis of research completed to investigate GI symptoms in autistic children.
Three key points from Gastrointestinal Symptoms in Autism Spectrum Disorder: A Meta-Analysis:
- Autistic children experience “significantly more” GI symptoms than children without ASD
- Children with ASD specifically have higher rates of diarrhea, constipation, and abdominal pain
- More research is needed to explore dietary restrictions and treatment for GI issues in autistic children
Published by the International Collegiate Science Journal, Trust Your Gut: Treating Autism with Probiotics comes from the Harvard Science Review. By Linda Xu, the article reminds readers that ASD is “the most increasingly prevalent and most heavily researched neurodevelopmental disorder in the United States,” yet is still is “largely incurable.” The article considers recent research in order to determine whether ASD and its related behavior abnormalities may be corrected through probiotic treatment.
Three key points from Trust Your Gut: Treating Autism with Probiotics:
- Though traditionally considered a neurological disorder, ASD is now being considered a GI defect
- Diabetes, sleep disorders, and GI issues are commonly associated with ASD
- There is strong evidence supporting the theory that behavioral abnormalities associated with ASD are caused by gut defects
Alternative medicine and treatments are sought after by parents of autistic children quite frequently. In this probiotics and autism resource, Dr. Virender Sodhi explains that ayurvedic medicine, which originated in India more than 5,000 years ago, assists in managing autism symptoms because it combines specialized diets, herbs, yoga, and massage.
Three key points from Ayurvedic Practice for Assisting Patients of Autism:
- Autistic patients tend to have a metabolic issue with serotonin, increased digestive issues, and food sensitivities
- It is possible that foods such as peanuts, citrus, dear products, tomatoes, and potatoes, as well as those that contain preservatives, colors, food additives, insecticides, pesticides, and heavy metals “may impede serotonin metabolism” or add to GI issues and discomfort to the point that autistic patients’ behavior worsens
- Probiotics to assist in autism should include bifidobacterium lactis, lactobacillus salivarius, and saccharomyces boulardii
BioMed Central is an open access publisher of science, medicine, and technology research. Their probiotics and autism research article shares findings from comparing gastrointestinal flora and gastrointestinal status of children with ASD and “healthy typical children” of similar ages. The results show that GI symptoms strongly correlate with the severity of autism.
Three key points from Gastrointestinal Flora and Gastrointestinal Status In Children With Autism – Comparisons To Typical Children and Correlation With Autism Severity:
- Children with severe autism are more likely to have more severe GI symptoms
- Underlying GI problems may worsen autism symptoms or possibly cause them
- Probiotic use helps curb GI issues and autistic symptoms in some children with ASD
NCBI provides access to biological information to advance science and health. Their probiotics and autism paper supports the need for more clinical testing of probiotics in children with ASD, particularly to treat GI symptoms.
Three key points from The Potential Role of Probiotics in the Management of Childhood Autism Spectrum Disorders:
- Abnormal gut microbiota are commonly observed in children with ASD
- GI dysfunction leads to more problematic behaviors in autistic children, including increased irritability, tantrums, sleep disorder, and others
- Probiotics may restore normal gut microbiota, reduce inflammation, and alleviate behavior symptoms in some autistic children
NBCWashington’s news report on probiotics and autism from October 2014 features Dr. Joshua Weiner, who discusses how diet may be used to treat children with ASD. Dr. Weiner specifically promotes probiotics as being an especially helpful treatment for autistic kids.
Three key points from Probiotics Can Be Beneficial for Kids With Autism:
- A surge of studies in the past few years have shown the benefits of probiotics for both physical and emotional health
- Autistic children have many fewer good bacteria than their non-autistic peers
- More large-scale studies need to be conducted to validate probiotic use for autistic children, especially because probiotics improve GI issues and help alleviate autistic symptoms
Contemporary Pediatrics is a source for “practical information for today’s pediatrician.” Their April 2015 podcast features Dr. A. J. Rosso who published a study on the impacts of probiotics on gut flora and biomarkers like copper in autistic children.
Three key points from PODCAST: Gut Check:
- Plasma myeloperoxidase (MPO) levels in autistic kids are lower than in children without ASD, which correlates with significantly lower levels of copper in autistic kids
- Patients taking probiotics have lower MPO levels and lower copper levels
- Data suggests that future studies should investigate exactly which probiotics affect gut flora
In this Q&A video on probiotics and autism, Autism Speaks Autism Treatment Network (ATN) gastroenterologist Tim Buie answers questions from a previous “Office Hours” video on probiotics and dietary fiber. Parents of autistic children especially will find this video to be a helpful resource, as Dr. Buie answers questions from parents of autistic kids.
Three key points from Autism, Probiotics and Dietary Fiber: Q&A with GI Specialist Tim Buie:
- There are benefits from probiotics but there may be side effects or reactions to them in kids who have allergies
- There are yeast-free, bacterial probiotics that contain organisms in the lactobacillus or bifidobacterium groups that are beneficial for kids with ASD
- When choosing a new probiotic, choose one that has a single strain of organism to help you determine whether your child has a sensitivity to one type of organism
Apex Pharmacy is a highly-recommended pharmacy in Connecticut. In this probiotics and autism video, part of the Apex Answers series, Dave Mason discusses using probiotics in autistic children and makes some recommendations as to which to use.
Three key points from Probiotics for Autism:
- The need for probiotics in autistic kids is amplified because of their common GI issues
- Most doctors choose high-potency and high-qulaity probiotics to treat their autistic patients because their need for probiotic treatment is more critical than non-autistic patients
- It is important to refrigerate high-quality probiotics because of the live cultures they contain
Dr. Kurt Woeller specializes in treating autism. He explains that general multi-floral probiotics may be used to treat GI symptoms and to maintain Gi health, but that different probiotics are more appropriate to actually treat autistic patients.
Three key points from Autism Treatment – Using Probiotics in Autism Treatment:
- Probiotics that specifically target clostridia and yeast are more beneficial for autistic patients
- Do not rely on general multi-flora probiotics to treat autism
- Talk with your loved one’s physician about which probiotics are best to treat his autism
Dr. Brian Bartholomew is an Ithaca Family Chiropractor and health and wellness speaker who seeks to help people live happier lives and avoid health problems. In this probiotics and autism video, Dr. Brian explains how probiotics affect autism and digestion. He focuses on healthy gut flora as being essential to health.
Three key points from Probiotics the Vagus Nerve and Autism:
- Healthy bacteria in the gut is linked to autism, memory, and depression
- Autistic kids often have an imbalance of healthy and unhealthy bacteria in the gut
- Combining probiotic food, probiotic supplements, and chiropractic care to improve the nervous system and digestive system may benefit autistic patients
Elaine Hsiao is a biologist at Caltech studying neurobiology of disease, the microbiome, and neuroimmunology. She studied at Caltech with professor Paul Patterson and continues to study how microbiota influence health and disease. In this TEDxCaltech Talk, Hsiao explains how the microbiome affects the human brain and their behavior.
Three key points from Mind-Altering Microbes: How the Microbiome Affects Brain and Behavior: Elaine Hsiao at TEDxCaltech:
- Human bodies contain 10x more microbial cells than human eukaryotic cells
- Scientists are studying how the microbe-brain connection affects health and disease
- Through the use of B. fragilis, researchers at Caltech have been able to correct key abnormalities in autistic-like mice
Dr. Karima Hirani, an assistant clinical professor at USC Medical School, is board certified in family practice and also practices integrative and complementary medicine. In her probiotics and autism video, she introduces biomedical treatments for autism, including various diets and probiotic supplements.
Three key points from Biomedical Treatments for Autism:
- If conventional treatments for autism have been unsuccessful, biomedical treatment, including probiotic treatment, is something to consider
- Parents of autistic children should share what works for them because their experiences are important to helping others treat their own autistic children
- Probiotics help improve bacterial imbalances and restore gut function in autistic children who suffer from GI issues
The Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative (SFARI) webinar series features Sarkis Mazmanian, biology professor at Caltech. In this webinar, Dr. Mazmanian presents the work his lab conducted in investigating the links between gut bacteria, intestinal disease, and autism.
Three key points from Webinar Video: Sarkis Mazmanian Explores Probiotics For Autism:
- The connection between gut bacteria, intestinal disease, and autism may lead to new autism treatments
- Probiotics successfully alleviated autism behaviors in autistic-like mice
- Probiotics help to balance gut bacteria, which helps autistic patients to feel more comfortable, but probiotics also appear to correct autism behaviors