Probiotics Can Help Children With Battling Autism

autismawarenessAutism is a serious developmental disorder in children which has seen a drastic increase in its prevalence in the past few decades. Since this order has significant morbidity in children, a lot of research has gone into recognizing the cause and management modalities for the disorder. Understanding the underlying cause of the disease can help ascertain methods to treat the disorder. Pioneers in the field of autism understanding have found an inherent relationship between autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and gastrointestinal function. This article attempts to identify the role of probiotics in management of ASD.

What happens in autism and how can probiotic help patients with autism? Probiotics act at multiple levels in managing autism. These can be understood as below:

1. Effect on gastrointestinal tract (GIT):

GIT is unable to digest some of the proteins adequately especially casein and gluten. In children with autism, there is a so-called leaky gut, which allows for easy passage of exorphins. Exorphins are partial proteins formed by the incomplete breakdown of the proteins found in dairy products (casein) and wheat (gluten). Due to this incomplete breakdown, pre-opioid like compounds are activated in the GIT, which are then easily transferred to the gut and finally through blood to the brain exerting opioid-like effects on it. This causes the symptoms of autism. In patients with autism, there is also a decreased level of a gut enzyme, dipeptididyl peptidase IV (DPPIV), which digests the exorphins preventing its interaction with the body’s natural neural signaling. Probiotics are useful in patients with autism by performing dual function: On one side it repairs the leaky GIT, thereby preventing the passage of the bad bacteria to cross the lumen of the blood vessel, and on the other side helps recover the body from the physical distress that may be caused by the pathogen attack. Thus, they can act as a rescuer in patients with autism. According to a research conducted by Critchfield et al (2011), probiotics can help to restore the intestinal microbial flora thereby relieving the gastrointestinal and immunological problems

2. Effect on the level of Mercury:

Though largely the etiology of autism is unknown, one of the causes is related to the mercury content in the body. According to this theory, autism may be caused by environmental –acquired mercury intake through causal agent or through vaccination. The probiotics can inherently act as a detoxifying agent and take up the mercury. Thus, they need to be replaced by the fresh supply of probiotics, thereby concluding that in patients with autism, probiotics are important.

3. Effect on the circulating ammonia levels:

In patients with autism, the poisonous level of circulating ammonia is also a big concern. However, probiotics can be of extreme importance as established by a study. In this study, 5 billion organisms of Bifidobacterium lacis or B.breve, showed a corresponding decrease in the pH level of the caecal content, thereby suggesting the efficacy of probiotics in managing autism by detoxifying the circulating ammonia.

4. Effect on the concentration of D-arabinitol in urine:

In patients with autism, the high level of D-arabinitol can impact the ability to concentrate and carry-on orders. According to a study by Kaluzna-Czaplinska and Blaszczyk(2012), probiotics were found to reduce the levels of D-arabinitol in urine. Thus, having a positive effect on increasing the concentration of the patients with autism.

Probiotics- How much is good?

In the past decade, through many studies, the amount of the probiotics that can have effective effects in managing autism is established. While previously, 100 million viable cells at the time of manufacture were considered as sufficient, studies have now revealed that 10 billion Bifidobacterium viable cells in milk per day enhanced the activity of the phagocytic activity of the granulocytes. More similar studies are essential to establish the effect probiotics in patients with autism as well.

Genomeceuticals- A new hope in the management of autism:

Genomeceuticals has established its place in the therapy of autism as it aids in the production of DDPIV enzymes and probiotics, both of which is believed to play a role in the management of ASD. Galactose, also referred to as a prebiotic is an important component of the genomeceutical. A prebiotic helps to stimulate the growth of probiotics in the body. Galactose therefore helps by increasing expression of DDPIV gene that elevates the level of DDPIV enzyme, thereby promoting the breakdown of the exorphins. Moreover, it acts as a food for the indigenous probiotics that have the ability to make enzymes which are capable of breaking down these exorphins.

To sum up, use of probiotics in patients with autism has shown a positive impact on the management of this disorder.


1. Critchfield JW, van Hemert S, Ash M, Mulder L, Ashwood P. The potential role of probiotics in the management of childhood autism spectrum disorders. Gastroenterol Res Pract. 2011;2011:161358. Epub 2011 Oct 26
2. Kaluzna-Czaplinska J, Blaszczyk S. The level of arabinitol in autistic children after probiotic therapy. Nutrition. 2012 Feb;28(2):124-6. Epub 2011 Nov 12.
Image Credit – Beverly & Pack @ Creative Commons –
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