BYU Study Researching Potential Link Between Gut Bacteria & Autism In Children

Dec 15, 2020, 11:15 PM | Updated: Dec 16, 2020, 10:30 am

PROVO, Utah – Researchers at Brigham Young University are looking at gut bacteria as a possible link to autism. Their hope is to find a way to help pediatricians diagnose autism in children as young as 12 months old.

Dr. Rebecca Lundwall is leading a study of what will ultimately include 120 infants over a couple of years.

Lundwall said early diagnosis is critical for people with autism because the brain hasn’t fully developed. The older the child is, the less impact can be obtained from early intervention.

“Ideally, you want to have children diagnosed as early as there are interventions that could help them,” Lundwall said. “A dream of mine is if I could develop a test that a child could go to a well-visit and the pediatrician could say, ‘We just do this simple test and your child is high-risk for autism.'”

Researchers said early intervention is important because it gives children with autism the best chance at increased skills and the likelihood of a better quality of life through adulthood.

Levi Pardon, who has two sons with autism, said he is optimistic about the study.

“If this is successful, who knows where it will go and what it will be able to do with people on the spectrum in more advanced stages of life,” he said.

Currently, the earliest diagnoses come at about 2 or 3 years old. And, while the Centers for Disease Control show about 2% or 1-in-50 are on the autism spectrum, Lundwall believes the numbers are actually higher.

She said to be able to help those on the spectrum to live happier, healthier and more productive lives.

“This isn’t about changing all that people like and enjoy about their personality,” Lundwall said. “I want people to be able to know and understand themselves and how they can be happier and how they can interact with other people.”

Lundwall and her team are still looking for about 100 infants to be part of the study, and they said there is compensation for participation. Participants should be between 8 and 12 months old, with or without siblings that have autism.

If you are interested in participating, you can get more information by emailing: Rebecca_Lundwall@byu.edu.

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BYU Study Researching Potential Link Between Gut Bacteria & Autism In Children