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Gut Treatments- Probiotics

Probiotics have been used to help individuals on the autism spectrum with clostridia, a form of bacteria, parasites, yeast, strep, and gut issues.35 Probiotics are living microorganisms that are commonly referred to as “good bacteria” and are available in foods, such as yogurt or pickles, capsules, powders, and liquids.36 A combination of probiotics, anti-fungal medications, and/or antibiotics may be implemented to treat bacteria, yeast, or fungal overgrowth in the gut.37 The hope is that probiotics can be “used to help restore the normal balance of gut flora and reduce the toxin producing bacteria that may be contributing toward gut dysfunction and exerting systemic results with their metabolic products.”17

The results of a 2009 survey found that 1 in 5 parents were giving probiotics to their children on the autism spectrum.39 Despite their widespread use and anecdotal reports, “no studies have evaluated probiotics specifically for the treatments of autism symptoms.”39 A 2011 review of the literature surrounding the use of probiotics with individuals on the autism spectrum found that “support emerges for the clinical testing of probiotics in ASD, especially in the context of addressing GI symptoms.”40 In 2011, a 2-year grant was awarded by Autism Speaks to, in part, study the potential of using probiotics to “restore barrier function and ameliorate GI symptoms, immune activation and abnormal behavior.”41 The results of this study are still forthcoming.

*Parents should consult their physician before implementing any dietary intervention for their child.