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Increasing evidence suggests that children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) have altered gut microflora, says Dr. Dae-Wook Kang, assistant research scientist in the Swette Center for Environmental Biotechnology at ASU's Biodesign Institute.
"We have observed that children with ASD have lower fecal bacterial diversity and reduced levels of carbohydrate-degrading bacteria—Prevotella — compared to neurotypical children," Kang notes.
"We also have explored metabolite profiles using NMR spectroscopy and found that levels of bacterial fermentation products and neurotransmitters are significantly different in feces of children with ASD compared to neurotypical controls, suggesting that gut microbes mediate gut-to-brain communications. We propose that alterations in intestinal microbe populations lead to modifications in the neuroactive metabolites they produce possibly contributing to ASD symptoms."