Study Suggests Gut Bacteria Could Help Diagnose Autism
Study Suggests Gut Bacteria Could Help Diagnose Autism
New research reveals that gut bacteria may offer a novel method for diagnosing autism, potentially addressing significant delays in current diagnostic processes.

TEHRAN (Iran News) –Scientists say the findings are novel and exciting because a new way of diagnosing the condition may help address the “massive backlog” in people waiting to be seen.

For the study, researchers from the Chinese University of Hong Kong analyzed stool samples from 1,627 children aged one to 13, with or without the condition.

They found specific bacterial and nonbacterial components of the gut microbiome and their functions could contribute to autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in both boys and girls.

Taking into consideration additional factors including diet, medication, and other health conditions, they identified that several different components of the microbiome were altered in children with ASD.

Dr. Elizabeth Lund, an independent consultant in nutrition and gastrointestinal health, who was not involved in the study, said: “The idea that analysis of stool samples may aid in diagnosis is very exciting, as currently there is a massive backlog in children and adults waiting to be assessed.

“The current process is very lengthy and there is a shortage of clinicians such as psychologists and psychiatrists trained to carry out a proper diagnosis.”

She added: “The researchers quite rightly point out that this data cannot say whether the different microbiome causes ASD or whether differences in the diet, or other environmental factors, associated with children with ASD lead to the observed differences.

“However, in my opinion, dietary preferences in people with ASD are so diverse they are unlikely to cause a consistent difference in the gut microbiome.”

Autism is a lifelong developmental condition.

It affects the way a person communicates, interacts, and processes information.

According to the National Autistic Society, more than one in 100 people are on the autism spectrum and there are about 700,000 autistic adults and children in the UK.

Professor Bhismadev Chakrabarti, research director of the Centre for Autism at the University of Reading, who did not take part in the research, said: “What is exciting about this study is that it opens up the possibility of investigating specific biochemical pathways and their impact on different autistic features.

“It could also provide new ways of detecting autism, if microbial markers turn out to strengthen the ability of genetic and behavioral tests to detect autism.

“A future platform that can combine genetic, microbial, and simple behavioral assessments could help address the detection gap. With the results of this study, the lens through which we view microbiota within autism has definitely broadened.”

The findings of the study were published in the academic journal Nature Microbiology.