According to a recent study, a probiotic and nutritional supplement has beneficial effects on bowel issues in children suffering from Autism Spectrum Disorder, or ASD.
Chronic diarrhea and constipation typically lasting for several days are major issues affecting autistic individuals, particularly children. These conditions also contribute to behavioral problems in these children, along with posing significant management challenges for both parents and teachers.
Probiotics are live bacteria that confer a health benefit on the host they live in, by improving its intestinal microbial balance. Lactic acid bacteria and bifidobacteria are the most common probiotics, but certain yeasts and bacilli can also be used. Probiotics are commonly consumed as part of fermented foods with specially added active live cultures - such as in yogurt, soy yogurt or as dietary supplements.
In this study, probiotic and nutritional supplement capsules were given to 25 children with ASD over a 42-day trial period. Responses were measured using the ATEC (Autism Treatment Evaluation Checklist) scoring tool, which helps to evaluate autism severity in four categories:
- Sensory/cognitive awareness, and
The parents of participating children completed an ATEC questionnaire before the study started. Also, bowel issues, drugs or supplements used and any other special problems were carefully recorded.
After 21 days without therapy, the parents received a 3-week supply of the probiotic and nutritional supplement to be given to their children. Once again a daily record of each child's bowel behavior, as well as drugs or supplements administered was recorded. After 21 days of supplement therapy, the parents again repeated the ATEC survey.
At the end of the 42-day trial period, nearly half of participating children showed a reduction in diarrhea severity - while more than half showed a decrease in constipation severity.
Overall, nearly 90% of the participants showed a lower total ATEC score, meaning that their debilitating ASD symptoms improved thanks to treatment with the probiotic and nutritional supplement.