In the UK today, 1 in 100 children are affected by ASD (Autistic Spectrum Disorder), a disturbing 10% increase since 1992, with males being 4 times more likely to be on the spectrum than females.

Studies are being carried out as to the reasons behind the escalation of this neurodevelopmental disorder for which, at present, there is no cure. However, the relationship between the gut and brain is well established. It is known that gut bacteria are vital for healthy neurodevelopment in children, especially boys, a large percentage of whom have less bacteroidetes in their gut than girls, and a higher susceptibility to ASD. Bacteroidetes are crucial to the development of neurons in the brain and without a healthy balance, we lose our ability to perform well verbally or cognitively.

Foods which help to nourish the good bacteria include fermented nutriments such as kimchi, kefir, sauerkraut or apple cider vinegar, live yoghurt, garlic and onions, fruit and vegetables. Supplements can also be taken to help the microbiota thrive inside the gut environment.

In 2021, Mauro Costa-Mattioli, professor of neuroscience at Baylor College of Medicine revealed studies which demonstrated that genetics and environment influenced gut microbiota which directly communicate with the brain, influencing complex behaviour.

As well as the gut connection, a strong genetic link which can predict ASD has been established by scientists who have discovered that there are 72 mutated genetic variants directly associated with ASD and 252 more which are potentially linked to the development of Autism.

The genomes associated with autism impact mature neurons, preventing them from dividing and it is thought that an individual approach to treatment is the way forward by targeting the mutated genes in children.

It is known that an alteration to a particular gene pattern can change the building process of the body and mind, leading to autism. Chromosomes 7 and 15 are thought to be responsible for language and developmental disorders which means it will be necessary to repair genetic information until ASD is no longer the mystery it is today.

The biology of the brain is strongly affected by a combination of gut microbiota and mutant genes which can impact personality and diminish normal cognitive and language functions in children.

As science delves ever deeper into the building blocks of our brains and our bodies, the likelihood of finding effective treatments, and maybe even cures, for neurodevelopmental disorders such as ASD grows closer all the time.

‘A healthy outside starts from the Inside’

Robert Urich

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