Faecal microbiota of individuals with autism spectrum disorder

Shakuntla V Gondalia, Enzo A Palombo, Simon R Knowles, David W Austin

Abstract


Many children with autistic spectrum disorders (ASDs) suffer from gastrointestinal problems such as diarrhoea, constipation and abdominal pain. Such symptoms may be due to a disruption of the indigenous gut microbiota promoting the overgrowth of potentially pathogenic micro-organisms. These observations have stimulated investigations into possible abnormalities of intestinal microbiota in autistic patients. The purpose of the present study was to determine if a relationship exists between ASD severity (mild – severe) and GI microbial populations. The faecal microbiota of 22 male and 6 female participants with ASDs (aged 7 ± 6 years) were analyzed by standard microbial culture methods and compared within-group (based on ASD severity) and with a standard laboratory reference range. Comparisons between children with mild ASD and those with moderate to severe ASD, as well as comparisons to a neurotypical control group previously reported, revealed that no significant differences appear to exist in the composition of the gut microbiota. Nevertheless, examination of each individual’s gut microbial composition showed 10 cases of unusual findings witch means 1out of 3 cases have unusual microbiota. Our data do not support consistent GI microbial abnormalities in ASD children, but the findings do suggest that aberrations may be found in a minority subset of ASD children. Further studies are required to determine the possible association between the microbiota and gastrointestinal dysfunctions in a subset of children with both ASD and gastro-intestinal problems.

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ISSN 1832-7931
Swinburne University of Technology