Page by Stephanie Watkins
Because many autistic children suffer from dietary and gastrointestinal (GI) problems, it has been hypothesized that an abnormality in the digestive system may be linked to the disorder’s etiology. Specifically, barring a 2005 study, a disruption in the gastrointestinal microflora would promote the growth of pathogenic micro-organisms. Providing an environment favorable to colonization of bacteria, persistent abnormalities in the human gut flora could potentially effect many other bodily systems. Due to recent technological advances, particular bacteria species are more easily detected and can be examined in this context related to autism. In the comparison of the autistic and ‘healthy’ populations, the bacteria Clostridium boltea varied markedly between the two groups. Taking into account the ‘healthy’ siblings of individuals with autism, this group displayed intermediate levels of the bacteria, signifying that environmental factors impacted growth as well. Higher levels of Clostridium boltea were associated with gastrointestinal (GI) issues, both of which maintained high rates of prevalence in the autistic population. Alarmingly, studies have reported an increased resistance of clostridia to antimicrobial agents, signifying that antibiotics and other medicinal regimens may not aid the deficiency in such gastrointestinal problems. In this case, an abnormality in the gut flora may allow for the colonization of Clostridium boltea, contributing to the etiology of autism spectrum disorder (Parracho, Bingham, Gibson, & McCartney, 2005).
Parracho, H. M. R. T., Bingham, M. O., Gibson, G. R., & McCartney, A. L. (2005). Differences between the gut microflora of children with autistic spectrum disorders and that of healthy children. Journal of Medicinal Microbiology, 54, 987-991.