Probiotics for Autism

One of the most effective treatments that MAPS doctors utilize to address the signs and symptoms of autism is probiotic supplementation.

What they are
Fermented foods, such as cheese, yogurt and kefir, for example, contain microbes. Over 100 years ago, researchers at the Pasteur Institute discovered the role of gut bacteria and demonstrated their importance to proper immune system functioning, as well as digestion.

In the second half of the 20th century, as antibiotics became popular, the simpler, more natural probiotics took a back seat. The overuse of prescription medication and routine use of genetically modified foods has altered a symbiotic relationship that existed since the earliest humans.

The term is now used to describe proprietary microorganisms (bacteria, fungus) that are ingested to help create a healthy mix of G-I flora.

What they do
The bacteria inside our gut outnumber the cells in the rest of our body. The modern term “microbiome” describes the complicated interplay between those microorganisms and the various cells in our digestive environment. There are profound effects on the functioning of our immune and nervous system.

Altering this delicate relationship has downstream effects, such as chronic infections, auto-immunity (?self vs. non-self), nutritional deficiencies, food allergy, and digestion.

Probiotics offer the potential to re-invigorate a depleted microbiome and alter the downward spiral, resulting in better stool patterns, fewer infections, improved nutrition, less distraction and disrupted behavior.

What About Autism
Patients with ASD appear to represent a percentage of the population who are susceptible to interruptions in the microbiome. The association of the core signs and symptoms of autism with immune irregularities, abnormal digestion, chronic infections, antibiotic over-prescribing, nutritional deficiencies, distractibility, poor tone and developmental delay is conspicuous.

Probiotics have been a mainstay of biomedical treatment because they are reasonably priced, safe and effective.

Side effects
After initiating appropriate probiotic therapy the clinical course is variable. Some children have no apparent change, at first. Other patients seem to have 3 to 5 to 7 days of die-off, as healthier organisms vie for the food supply and toxins are released.

Diarrhea, constipation, flatulence, silly behavior, rashes, poor sleep, aggression and regression are possible symptoms in the earliest phase. When behaviors become too intense, (oral doses of ) activated charcoal can sometimes temporize, as the healthier bacteria take hold and survive.

After a variable amount of time (depending on the age of the child and the presence of G-I symptoms), most parents report a lifting of their child’s ‘fog’, improved eye contact, and the initiation of communication.

Which is the best one
There is a general belief that probiotics are ineffective because the microorganisms do not survive the trip all the way down the digestive system where they need to take up residence. The best way around this issue is to pick products with a very high density of cells. There are trillions of bacteria in the body, and it appears that many billions are required to do their job.

Likewise, the body contains a variety of bacterial types. Look for products that contain an assortment of healthy organisms. Biomedical protocols often include the use of Saccromyces, which are supposedly ‘healthy’ yeast. At The Child Development Center, there are many children who demonstrate anti-yeast antibodies, so that is only utilized in a pinch.

Conclusion
Addressing the HIV-AIDS epidemic improved medicine’s abilities to understand viruses and the immune system. So, too, is our increasing understanding about the mysteries of autism assisting in a better understanding of a variety of gastrointestinal and allergic disorders.

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2 Responses to “Probiotics for Autism”

  1. Dovan D Do says:

    My son is 10 with very functional ASD. I read your article. I need help to find the best probiotics for my son. Please help.

    Dovan

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Brian D. Udell MD
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