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Background to Autism

In recent years, a clear link has been established between digestive problems and autism1,2.

A crucial part of a normal digestive tract is the 1.5 kg of beneficial bacteria that live there3,4,5. Without them we simply cannot be healthy. The functions of normal gut flora, known to science so far, are multiple and far reaching.

The role of normal balanced gut bacteria (gut flora) in the healthy child:

  • The normal gut flora have a protective role against invasive pathogenic microorganisms by producing antibiotic-like substances, antifungal volatiles (AFV) and surfactins, that dissolve the lipid membrane of envelope viruses and bacteria
  • They play a major role in the digestion and absorption of all nutrients
  • They provide a major source of nourishment and energy for the gut lining
  • They synthesise various amino acids, Vitamin K, panthotenic acid, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, folic acid, pyridoxine, and cyancobalamine
  • They help to recycle bile acids and assist normal cholesterol metabolism
  • They have a major immunomodulating role by stimulating antibody production, interferon synthesis and inhibition of IgA degradation (IgA is secreted into the lumen of the digestive tract in response to approaching food and is essential for the proper digestion of that food).

This microscopic world within us is highly organised. In healthy people it is dominated by "good" bacteria, which keep under control a huge variety of pathogenic, "bad" bacteria. For whatever as yet unknown reason, autistic children develop deficient gut flora1,2.

When probiotic live bacteria is introduced to the gut, over time it clears out the "bad" microbes and re-establishes the normal gut flora.


  1. Rimland B., “New hope for safe and effective treatments for autism”, Autism Research Review International, 8:3, 1994. 
  2. Shaw W., Biological Treatments for Autism and PDD, 1998. ISBN 0-9661238-0-8 
  3. Cummings J.H., Macfarlane G.T. (1997), “Role of intestinal bacteria in nutrient metabolism”, (Review) (104 refs), Journal of Parenteral & Enteral Nutrition, 1997, 21(6):357-65.
  4. Cummings J.H., Macfarlane G.T. (1997). “Colonic Microflora: Nutrition and Health”, Nutrition, 1997, vol.13, No.5, 476-478.
  5. Finegold S.M., Sutter V.L., Mathisen G.E. (1983), Normal indigenous intestinal flora in: Human intestinal flora in health and disease (Hentges D.J., ed), pp3-31. Academic Press, London, UK.

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