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Little-understood bacterium commonly found in autistics' intestines

An interesting article about a bacteria group that can be found in the intestines of autistics' with gastrointestinal issues but not in the systems of non-autistics has come out recently, bringing more credence to the connection between gut/brain issues and autism.

The study came from Brent Williams and colleagues at the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University, and will be published in an upcoming issue of mBio, the publication of the American Society for Microbiology.

Bacteria from the group Sutterella was not found in the guts of non-autistic children, but was found in 12 of 23 samples of bacteria from the intestinal tracts of autistic children in the study. It's not known if the bacteria itself is a pathogen in itself or an indicator of some other condition.

But it lends a lot of support to the connection between leaky gut and autism, as we discussed back in the article with Scarlett and her success with a Paleo regimen. Something different is going on with the intestines of autistic kids, and in many cases a simple Gluten-free/Casein-free diet has helped many, though Mat Lalonde and others have suggested that a full Paleo diet can do even more (and Scarlett is living n=1 proof of that).

Some interesting questions should come out of this:

  1. Is the presence of Sutterella causative of such conditions, or a by-product?

  2. What exactly is Sutterella nourishing itself with that is in the intestines of autistic kids?

  3. What can be done to the diet of autistic kids to make their bacterial makeup more like that of neuro-typical kids?

This study could go a long way to helping a lot of kids, and I look forward to hearing more about this study.


  1. This is good to learn. Thanks!

    I expect that Sutterella bloom can be a cause and can be a by-product depending on what the initial body insult was. In the years that I've been treating my son (now 12), the first big improvement was seen with a change in diet (a diet very similar to today's Paleo diets). This reduces offenses to the gut, provides better nourishment, and feeds a healthier balance of gut flora. Other remedies can follow from there.

  2. Mutagon, I'd be interested in hearing more about the diet you've been using with your son. But it seems that reducing inflammation of all kinds, especially that which causes leaky gut and other types of gut bacterial issues, is a big part of the solution. That's what GF/CF, the Specific Carbohydrate Diet, the GAPS diet, and Paleo are all about to varying degrees and they all have shown to be valuable.

  3. I imagine you know as much as I do or more. What type of info are you interested in?

    I started my high-functioning autistic son on GF/CF and soon after refined it to the SCD (after consulting a DAN! doc). Since then I've picked up pieces from Atkins, the Body Ecology Diet (which targets gut flora balance), the GAPS Diet, the Feingold Program, and Paleo. As you mention, there is a lot of overlap between these various diets. Each also has an educational perspective of its own to add.

    My son is a mainstream student today with mild asperger's symptoms. At this point, I'm not sure what formal diet he is closest to since I've combined things from each. I've also adapted same diet as he .. all my research - and the results - has shown it's a healthier way. Eliminate negative inputs, heal the gut, provide optimal nutrition.

    Of course, one of the essentials of health health is being able to measure what's going on in the indeterminate areas between full health and acute illness. Blood/stool/urine tests, as well as behavioral surveys, have filled this role. Various supplements have helped boost progress toward the normal: B and other vitamins vitamins, omega fatty acids, antioxidants, specific amino acids, prebiotics, probiotics, antimicrobials, and so on.

    I'd be interested to learn more of the latest research in any of these areas and provide things I've learned from my experience.

  4. I would like to know if there's a link to antibiotic use before &/or during labor. I was being treated w/ high amounts of antibiotics for Group B Strep & my son had severe issues w/ thrush, reflux, constipation, & ultimately Autism. If Autism is possibly being considered a gut-related disease, our case leads me back to that antibiotic!


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