According to a recent study, autism symptoms in mice decreased with the use of probiotics. The research was undertaken by the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) to help a link between autism and gastrointestinal problems. The mice were purposely bred with symptoms of the condition for various studies over the years.
This is the first time a link between gut bacteria and the symptoms has been proven. Probiotics are the good bacteria that live in the gut, and are beneficial for helping reduce gastrointestinal problems. They offer people a number of benefits, including removing the bad bacteria and yeast build-up in the system.
The mice were developed through previous research, which showed that women who had severe viral infections during pregnancy were more likely to have children somewhere on the autistic spectrum. Researchers triggered the immune system to act as if there was a virus with the idea that the babies would have some of the symptoms.
However, the link to the gut bacteria is very new. Caltech professor of biology, Sarkis K. Mazmanian made a statement that mentioned how “unappreciated” the link has previously been. Autism has always been linked to genetics and a brain disorder. There are now questions whether these new findings will change the way patients are cared for.
The autistic-like symptoms in the mice included being more nervous and less sociable than most mice. This is a common trait in autistic children. These autism symptoms decreased with the use of probiotics.
This research was not just a spur of the moment decision. When researching the condition further, all the mice had ‘leaky guts’, which means that material from inside the intestines was able to pass through the intestinal wall. Studies carried out on autistic patients have also shown that these patients are more likely to suffer from some gastrointestinal problems. The research led to the possible link between gut bacteria and the disease.
Leaky gut disorders have also been linked to other illnesses, including Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s, and multiple sclerosis.
To further the research, a census of the bacteria living in the guts of the mice was taken. This assessed the level of good and bad bacteria, and it found that the good bacteria was considerably lower than in a healthy mouse. Probiotics are full of the good bacteria, and this led to the gastrointestinal problems and behavior improving.
The recent study was published yesterday in Cell, an online journal.
The good thing about probiotics is that they are available in drink and yogurt form in the grocery stores. They are also healthy for humans, so there is little risk for patients with autism at least trying them. People around the world choose to take probiotics because they help with food digestion and reduce stomach aches and problems.
Paul Patterson, another member of the research team, is confident that this is now a form of treatment for babies born with autism. However, further research is still needed. While autism symptoms decreased in mice due to probiotics, there is no current confirmation that this will happen in humans.
By Alexandria Ingham