OSU researcher: Fecal transplants could help children with Autism

A fecal transplant, the process of introducing donated healthy microbes into people with a gastrointestinal disease to re-balance the stomach, may help alleviate symptoms of Autism in children, a new study has found.

Behavioral symptoms of Autism and gastrointestinal distress are often related, according to the Ohio State University study, and both improved when a small group of children with the disorder underwent fecal transplants and subsequent treatment.

In the study of 18 children with Autism and moderate to severe gastrointestinal problems, parents and doctors said they saw positive changes that lasted at least eight weeks after the treatment.

“Transplants are working for people with other gastrointestinal problems. And, with Autism, gastrointestinal symptoms are often severe, so we thought this could be potentially valuable,” said Ann Gregory, a lead author of the study and a microbiology graduate student at Ohio State.

The study, which appears in the journal "Microbiome ," was conducted while Gregory and her adviser and co-author, Matthew Sullivan, were at the University of Arizona. Other lead researchers on the project are from Arizona State University and Northern Arizona University, according to Ohio State.

A growing body of research is drawing connections between the bacteria and viruses that inhabit the gut and problems in the brain, and it is possible the two are tied together in an important way in Autism, she said.

Parents reported a decrease in stomach woes, including diarrhea and pain in the eight weeks following the end of treatment. Parents also said they saw significant positive changes when it came to behavioral autism symptoms in their children, who ranged from 7 years old to 16 years old, according to the study.


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