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Autism Channel
Reported January 13, 2012

Autistic Children Have Different Guts

(Ivanhoe Newswire)-- An interesting observation has been made that many autistic children have a different kind of bacteria in their intestinal tract than non-autistic children do.

Brent Williams and colleagues at the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University found that bacteria belonging to the group Sutterella are one of the major populations of microorganisms living in the gut of some autistic children. Sutterella was not found in tissue samples from non-autistic children.

It is an enigma what the correlation is between the developmental disorder autism and the existence of Sutterella. Jorge Benach, Chairman of the Department of Microbiology at Stony Brook University and a reviewer of the report is quoted as saying, "Sutterella has been associated with gastrointestinal diseases below the diaphragm, and whether it's a pathogen or not is still not clear. It is not a very well-known bacterium."

Frequently, autistic children also suffer from gastrointestinal disorders, but so far the connection, if any remains unclear. Autism itself is still poorly understood.

"The relationship between different microorganisms and the host and the outcomes for disease and development is an exciting issue," Christine A. Biron, the Brintzenhoff Professor of Medical Science at Brown University and editor of the study was quoted as saying.

"This paper is important because it starts to advance the question of how the resident microbes interact with a disorder that is poorly understood."

The finding that Sutterella is uniquely present in the gut of autistic children is intriguing, but further work is needed to make any definite conclusions.

Benach is quoted as saying, "It is an observation that needs to be followed through."

SOURCE: mBio®, January 2012


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