Autism: can faecal transplant improve behavioural symptoms?

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In a new study published in the journal Microbiome, 18 children with autism underwent faecal transplant.

Faecal transplant may benefit children with autism, according to new research.

In a small study of 18 children, doctors and parents reported improvement in behavioural symptoms and gastrointestinal distress in a small group of children who underwent faecal transplant and subsequent treatment. The benefits lasted for at least eight weeks after treatment. Doctor-reported symptoms decreased by 22 per cent at the end of treatment and by 24 per cent eight weeks after treatment ended, compared with ratings at the start of the study. At the end of the study, the bacterial diversity in the children with autism was indistinguishable from their healthy peers.

“Transplants are working for people with other gastrointestinal problems. And, with autism, gastrointestinal symptoms are often severe, so we thought this could be potentially valuable,” said Ann Gregory, one of the study’s lead authors.

A growing body of research is drawing connections between the bacteria and viruses that inhabit the gut and problems in the brain, and it is possible the two are tied together in an important way in autism, she said.

The research team is now seeking additional funding for a larger clinical trial.

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