7It is very likely that you know someone, whether it’s a relative of a friend of a friend, who suffers from autism spectrum disorder… There ha been an important growth of cases in the last decade: between 2005 and 2011, the number of autistic students enrolled in the public sector in Quebec doubled1. Individuals with autism have difficulty communicating and interacting socially. They also have behaviours, interests and habits that are rigid, restricted and repetitive in nature2,3.
Dig deep… into the intestines
It is relevant to talk about digestive health when discussing autism, since autistic children often have gastrointestinal problems such as abdominal pain, constipation and diarrhea4,5. In addition, recent studies show that people with autisme have an intestinal flora, also known as the microbiota, that is different form other individuals6. This suggests that the cause of autism can be traced in part to the two-way interaction between the brain and the intestine3.
Alternative interventions : probiotherapy & dietotherapy
Those with autism mus adapt their diet to account for their predisposition to lactose intolerance and other gastrointestinal whims. Considering the dietary restrictions typically associated with autism and the preferences that often occur at the table, it is interesting to meet nutritional needs with supplements, especially omega-3 fatty acids and probiotics1. Probiotic supplementation goes beyond simply correcting nutritional deficiencies, it would allow to modulate the valuable gut-brain axis and thus to offer a complementary treatment to autism5,7.
Flash Quiz to see who the Experts are!
True or False? Researchers and health professionals have clearly identified the causes of autism.
False. The etiology of autism is not yet unanimous. Genetic and environmental causes are mentioned, the imbalance of the intestinal microbiota is a factor that has become more important in recent studies.
True or False? Individuals with autism are more prone to digestive problems.
True. The difficulty of going to the toilet and digesting (constipation and / or diarrhea, bloating and flatulence, gastric reflux, among other troublesome symptoms) is real and related to sensory and physiological problems
1 Fédération québécoise de l’autisme [Website]. Consulted July 8th 2017. http://www.autisme.qc.ca/tsa/lautisme-en-chiffres.html
2 Kawicka A et Regulska-Ilow B. How nutritional status, diet and dietary supplements can affect autism. A review. Rocz Panstw Zakl Hig. 2013; 64(1): 1-12.
3 Rosenfeld CS. Microbiome Disturbances and Autism Spectrum Disorders. Drug Metab Dispos. 2015 Oct; 43(10) : 1557-71.
4 Navarro F, Liu Y et Rhoads JM. Can probiotics benefit children with autism spectrum disorders? World J Gastroenterol. 2016 Dec; 22(46): 10093-10102.
5 Autism Canada [Website]. Consulted July 9th 2017. http://autismcanada.org/research/scientific-evidence/?lang=fr
6 Mangiola F, Ianiro G, Franceschi F, Fagiuoli S et al. Gut microbiota in autism and mood disorders. World J Gastroenterol. 2016 Jan; 22(1) : 361-8.
7 Li Q et Zhou JM. The microbiota-gut-grain axis and its potential therapeutic role in autism spectrum disorder. Neuroscience. 2016 Jun; 324:131-9.