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Common Gut Issues Amongst the ASD Community

Common Gut Issues Amongst the ASD Community Common Gut Issues Amongst the ASD Community

The scientific community has termed the gut microbiota as the forgotten organ. It plays an indispensable role in our health and wellbeing. It is teeming with diversity, includingtrillions of microbes that span thousands of species.

When this microbial ecosystem experiences persistent imbalance, a gut dysbiosis arises. Thisdysbiosis is known to be associated with a host of health consequences, including gastrointestinal discomfort, diabetes, cancer, cardiovascular issues, and more.

Researchers have also discovered betweengut dysbiosis and autism . These gut issues can cause immense discomfort among the autism community and prompt thorough review. They may shed valuable insights into novel therapeutic applications for some of the challenges that autistic people can face.

Autism Spectrum Disorders

Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD), also known asautism, affects nearly5.5 million adults in the United States. The Autism Self Advocacy Network describes that the condition affects everyone in the community in varied ways, but many share differences in how they think, process senses, move, communicate, and socialize.

What does autism have to do with the gut? Many among the autistic community experience a variety ofgut issues. Some common ones include:

  • abdominal pain
  • Diarrhea
  • abdominal bloating
  • intestinal dysbiosis
  • increased intestinal membrane permeability, or “leaky gut”

Their severity also correlates with the intensity of how people can experience autism, largely due to the biological phenomenon called theGut-Brain Axis. The Gut-Brain Axis is a term coined to describe the bidirectional communication between the brain and the gut microbiome. Scientists all over the world are actively uncovering more about the model and evaluating how it can be applied to therapeutic strategies for a collection of gastrointestinal (GI), psychiatric, and neurologic conditions.

Gut Dysbiosis

Why is the Autistic community prone to gut issues? First, let's understand more about what exactly gut dysbiosis is. Simply put, a gut dysbiosis occurs from a prolonged imbalance within the gut microbiome. Three main factors can contribute togut dysbiosis:

  • depletion of commensal (beneficial) organisms
  • excessive growth of potentially harmful organisms
  • loss of overall microbiome diversity

The autism community's dysbiosis is characterized bychanges in the relative abundance of certain microbe species, namely decreases in certain commensal bacteria such asBifidobacteriaand Prevotella, as well as increases in potentially harmful bacteria such asProteobacteria andClostridioides. Gut dysbiosis's prevalence within the ASD community is thought to be a contributing factor for many of their shared experiences with common gut issues.

Healing the Gut

The association between autism and gut dysbiosis suggests potential in a therapeutic that restores the gut from dysbiosis. Emerging research with animal and human models corroborates this, including one study that found that treatment with a mix of 10 probiotic speciesprovided durable relief from GI-related symptoms associated with autism.

One parent of an autistic child on Floré alsoreported promising results for the therapeutic applications of custom probiotics for autism.

Interested in learning more about ongoing research on the link between autism and gut dysbiosis and curious how you may be able to contribute? Sun Genomics has partnered with Arizona State University's Autism/Asperger's Research Program and the Biodesign Institute to uncover more of the potential connection between autism and the gut microbiome. Check out more informationabout our project.

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