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Microbiota Transfer Therapy Could Help Children With Autism

Preliminary research finds benefits from the new approach in young patients with ASD

autistic boy

FRIDAY, Jan. 27, 2017 (HealthDay News) -- A new approach to alter the gut microbiome and virome may be an effective treatment for children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), according to research published online Jan. 23 in Microbiome.

The researchers studied the impact of microbiota transfer therapy on gut microbiota composition and gastrointestinal and ASD symptoms of 18 ASD-diagnosed children. The program consisted of two weeks of antibiotic treatment, a bowel cleanse, and then an extended fecal microbiota transplant using a high initial dose followed by daily and lower maintenance doses for seven to eight weeks.

After the procedure, the children experienced a 25 percent reduction in symptoms related to language, social interaction, and repetitive behaviors, study author James Adams, Ph.D., a professor and autism researcher at Arizona State University in Tempe, told HealthDay. The children also became less hyperactive, irritable, and lethargic. Five weeks into the study, the children had experienced an average 80 percent reduction in the gastrointestinal symptoms most had experienced for years.

"This exploratory, extended-duration treatment protocol thus appears to be a promising approach to alter the gut microbiome and virome and improve gastrointestinal and behavioral symptoms of ASD," the authors write. "Improvements in gastrointestinal symptoms, ASD symptoms, and the microbiome all persisted for at least eight weeks after treatment ended, suggesting a long-term impact."

Several authors disclosed patents related to the use of fecal microbiota transplant and/or probiotics for various conditions, including autism.

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