Gastrointestinal problems in autistic individuals explained in research

While certain biological traits have been said to lead to autism, their causation of the disorder has not been proven.  However, most health professionals and parents of autistic children agree that there are certain metabolic abnormalities among autistic individuals.  While one study by the

The difficulty of potty training children with autism is compounded by their tendency toward "holding" their waste.

Autism Speaks’ Autism Treatment Network suggests that there is no relationship between gastrointestinal problems and type of autism, gender, race, or IQ, the findings show that gastrointestinal symptoms such as diarrhea and constipation are common among autistic individuals (Science Daily).  Often, individuals with autism will “hold” their fecal matter; to expedite potty training an individual with autism, parents and/or guardiansshould praise “going number two” as an enormous accomplishment.

As it stands now, a child must undergo evaluations which map his or her “social interaction, communication and imaginative skills” (Science Daily).  Recently, however, research has suggested that autism might one day be detected by a simple urine test.  Many major scientific and medical journals and websites have produced articles stating this theory.  It is strange to think that a disorder commonly linked to brain activity could be detected by a simple urine test, but autistic individuals have a different bacterial makeup in their intestines than do people without an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).  All humans have bacteria in their intestines, 90-95% of which is E. coli.  However, a study in Australia shows that levels of E. coli are much lower in autistic individuals, generally around 56%, and even as low as 10% in some cases (“Cellular Malnutrition and Intestinal Dysbiosis in Autism,” Behavioural Neurotherapy Clinic, September 2010).

Scientists believe they might soon develop a simple urine test to expedite diagnoses of autism.

A urine or fecal test would show levels of different bacteria, thereby making it easier to test for autism through non-invasive means.  While these tests would not be the decisive factor in an autism diagnosis, they could be used in conjunction with traditional evaluations to determine more precisely the individual’s prognosis.  This could also lead to new treatment options, such as replacement or supplemental bacteria and digestive enzymes.  This study is a positive leap for parents of individuals with autism!

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