Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Gut Bacteria and Autism

Bacteria look at our gut as we look at empty land – suitable to build colonies and settle down. Bacteria are very small and their numbers are mind boggling. Crores and crores of them live in our stomach and intestines. Only some of them are harmful. Most are harmless and some are actually useful. The useful ones help in digestion, repair the damaged intestine and even produce precious vitamins.
When we eat junk food or take antibiotics, some of these bacteria die. This disturbs the peaceful environment in the gut, and causes stomach disorders like constipation or indigestion. Our home remedy of eating curd tries to put these good bacteria back.
In the last few years, scientists are uncovering a connection between these bacteria and a disorder much more dangerous than indigestion – Autism.
Autism is a development disorder. It means that it affects children in their development stage, typically 0 – 3 years. Autism causes a broad range of problems. Autistic children find it difficult to interact socially. They experience anxiety, depression and are very dependent on others.
Problems in genes are supposed to cause Autism. But recent research is throwing up some surprising facts.
Parents of Autistic children say that the children suffer from stomach problems much more than other children. Their behavior worsens when they are suffering from these problems. This prompted scientists to study connection between Gut Bacteria and Autism.
A study was published in July this year. It claimed that Autistic children lack some types of bacteria in their stomach. A paper published last week made a very sensational claim – they treated autistic mice with a type of bacteria, and found that some symptoms of autism were cured.
This research indicates that there is hope for Autistic children and their parents. We must keep in mind that these are preliminary studies and it’s a long way to go for any kind of treatment to become reality.
Autism is an extremely unfortunate condition. I will be watching the developments in this research with hopes for the best.

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