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Probiotics Are Not a Cure for Autism

Autistic Boy

Probiotics On The Brain: Not a Clear Cure for Autism 

Probiotics have many clinically defined benefits, ranging from gut health to immune and cardiovascular health. More recently, probiotics have also been linked to brain activity, mood, and behavior.

The link between mood and probiotics exists because the human gut has an extensive neural network that connects the digestive system to the brain. Biologists have even suggested that the extensive network of nerves in the gut make it a second brain. Studies have shown that these complex neural connections allow the gut and brain to communicate, and that gut bacteria play an important role in the nature of that communication.

In a recent study at the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas, that link was demonstrated using two different kinds of mice. In the study, scientists measured behavioral differences between offspring from obese mice and offspring from mice on a regular diet. The two groups of offspring had different gut bacteria and also exhibited different behaviors linked to their gut bacteria.  

Here at SuperBio we think the research is an interesting and further confirmation of the link between a healthy gut, the brain and mood. However, we’ve seen articles in the press that suggest these findings could show a possible cure for Autism.

Based on our review of the study - at no point do the authors claim a cure or reversal of autism.  Autism is a neurodevelopment disorder that encompasses many traits and related health problems, and is likely caused by a complex interplay of genetic traits, as well as environmental stress.  Some research has shown a link between autism and “bad” gut bacteria.  But, to reiterate, it is important to address these wider claims. Although probiotics can do many things, it is also important to understand that there is still much to understand in terms of probiotics and brain functions. They are not a magic bullet for all disorders.

We commend the scientists at Baylor for their work and methods. The study itself is very well conducted and clearly shows that the gut-brain connections exists. It also gives insight into how probiotics can have a real and beneficial effect on mood and behavior. In this respect the study is clearly valuable and informative, but, for the press to then take these results and state that the study demonstrates a cure for Autism is an unscientific and sensational extrapolation of the data that is misleading.