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Autism and the Gastro-intestinal Connection

Andrew Wakefield, Autism Research International



Autism and Gastrointestinal Symptoms

Clinically significant gastrointestinal symptoms occur in about 50% of autistic children and only about 10% of developmentally normal children. GI abnormalities identified in autistic children from laboratory studies include inflammation, abnormal intestinal permeability, and/or abnormal digestive enzyme activity. Biochemical studies indicate that these abnormalities "are consistent with an autoimmune pathology."

An overgrowth of acid-tolerant bacteria in the bowel (D-lactic acidosis) can cause aggression, stupor, movement disorders, including asterixis (involuntary jerking, especially in the hands), and other symptoms. Recently, bowel abnormalities have also been found in some children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

Treatment for abnormal gut flora brings only a temporary improvement in the children's behavior, according to studies. Colonic dysbiosis and the accompanying toxins may be secondary to underlying intestinal disease rather than the primary concern.

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