Thursday, April 18, 2013

Microbiome: Can A Fecal Transplant Cure Autism?

Bar chart showing autism diagnosis increase in the U.S. from 1996 through 2005.CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/bysa/3.0/)],
via Wikimedia Commons

Studies of the microbes and their genes, which we collectively term the Microbiome, have been performed for many chronic illnesses including Autism. There is considerable and recent attention on this issue, but thus far, scientists have shown potential correlations between autistic patients and shifts in their microbiome. Nothing conclusive and other studies do not find the same correlations. There's even a documentary on the topic called the Autism Enigma that perhaps oversells the idea that the microbiome is the cause of autism.

News links:
Open Access Papers:
While I'd like to hope that something as enigmatic as Austism has a microbial, and therefore potentially, curable basis, I was disappointed to find a chat on line where a fecal transplant had been performed to transplant healthy poop/microbes into the gut of an Autistic child. Unfortunately, weeks of monitoring after the fecal transplant did not appear to significantly affect the symptoms of that child. Its a sample size of 1, so take it with a grain of salt. But in this case, the fecal transplant did not cure Autism behaviors.
However, minor OCD with fans and holding/twiddling 2 of the same item remains.
The transplant did seem to stabilize gut symptoms:
At the 3 1/2 week mark, still no bacteria flares or yeast flares, all with no antimicrobials and just 1 culturelle a day. Bowel movements are still really good with no diarrhea or blow outs. Appetite is nice too. Weight is steady with maybe a slow increase.
I've previously written about the powerful affects that fecal transplants have on IBD, IBS, C. diff, Colitis and perhaps Multiple Sclerosis.

If anyone has any other information on how probiotics, prebiotics, or stool transplants work for Autism,  do share them here to spread the word around.

As always, thanks for reading and sharing your opinions.

Seth

15 comments:

  1. Fwiw, Eric Hollander http://www.einstein.yu.edu/faculty/11986/eric-hollander is starting dosing for a pig whipworm study on 18+ y.o.s with autism. My guess is that it will be most effective for individuals with gut issues. If pig whipworms prove beneficial, the study may support the use of FMT for children in the spectrum.

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  2. http://autismweb.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=4&t=30251

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  3. hi there, i intend doing a FMT for my son in a weeks time, just checking if any further feedback was received from others? many thanks

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    1. Best of luck and please do keep us posted of its success so we can inform others. I have not seen any further scientific studies on autism and fecal transplants.

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  4. thank you, will definitely do so, a bit tense and nervous as the parent, but i guess that comes with the territory, will certainly keep you posted once done.

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  5. Great. Much appreciated. Ive seen no evidence of harm in fecal transplants, so not to worry. It should either help (perhaps in other areas, such as digestion, etc) or be neutral. Fingers crossed. You might consider dietary changes as well to maintain the microbial population you desire.

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  6. We'er taking our son for FMT soon and he is 22 years old, with severe autism. He's had gut problems his whole life and has been on Vancomycin. It's helped reduce hyperactivity and slightly improved communication skills. He hasn't had a seizure since taking antibiotics- none in 13 weeks. Usually 1 per month. Seems promising, however we've been down this path before.

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    1. Thanks Kathy for sharing your story and best wishes for a successful outcome. You and other parents are at the frontlines of this science and we welcome your feedback through and after the fecal transplant process. This is citizen science at its core. Keep us posted so we can keep others up to date.

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    2. I was wondering about FMT for regressive autism. At about 18 months of age my son was progressing normally in terms of development. Around that time he had a two week course of antibiotics. By two years of age we started to notice he had lost the language and social skills that he had developed. I am just wondering if antibiotics at a young age could cause a gut imbalance? Also, when we mentioned to our son's psychologist at an autism intervention centre that he often seems to have an imporovement after illness, she said, "lots of parents say that". I know it is only anecdotal but is it possible that during illness when the temperature is up or when antibiotics are taken there is a short residual effect of a 're-balancing' of the gut bacteria or a short lived reduction of the clostridium species? very interested to hear about the FMT results. Our son is 9 1/2 years of age.

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    3. Thank you for this important question. The short answer is that antibiotics and illness are both associated with disruptions in the normal microbiome. Each one typically has a minor effect on changing the microbiome and repeated doses of antibiotics are associated with permanent changes in the microbiome and for some patients, it leads to IBD. It is conceivable that in your case, the microbiome may have shifted at a critical developmental window for your son. If you are curious about his microbiome, you can order a kit from uBiome or American Gut to have it measured. Then get back in touch with us here and we can discuss it in comparison to a healthy microbiome.

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  7. I have performed FBT on my 4 year old autistic son and sadly have seen zero change in him as though it had not being done!

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  8. Hi, very sorry to hear that you had no improvement. If I may ask, is your son's autism regressive? Did he have a normal development up until about 18 months? I hope you can find some treatment that works. Best wishes to you and your family.

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  9. Hi, just wondering how effective using fermented foods therapeutically would be? I have been studying books on the subject and writers have fascinating positive stories about healing their own gut symptoms, allergies, and mood issues, even kids behavior issues or spectrum-like behaviors with hard work incorporating fermented foods like kefir, kraut, and other cultured vegetables as well as sprouted grains. Not as easy as a transplant, but perhaps there needs to be more f/u and work after transplant to sustain the new microbiome?

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    1. Not much known in this realm, but definitely worth exploring! Seems like an emerging area…open access pub http://www.jphysiolanthropol.com/content/33/1/2

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