A special blood marker has been found enabling further understanding of potential gut linked environmental factors to autism. The results could create blood tests for early screening of the condition.

The findings came from a clinical study by researchers from Western University and the University of Arkansas, and were published in the journal Translational Psychiatry.

Led by Drs. Richard Frye and Stepan Melynk of Arkansas Children’s Hospital Research Institute, the investigators found evidence of unusual energy metabolism among a subgroup of autistic kids.

The evidence verified earlier biological breakthroughs made by MacFabe and his team over the last several years. The current results prove that these metabolic irregularities may come about, not just from genetic contributors, but from compounds made by specific bacteria, generally found to be elevated in the abdomen of autistic people.

Other recent research points out that biological abnormalities in autistic people are not limited to the brain. They can impact other body systems such as:

  • the immune system
  • detoxification
  • digestive system
  • energy generation

The irregularities are thought to be caused by dysfunctional mitochondria, the cells that create energy in the body.

Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) are a family of developmental disorders that are characterized by impaired language, social development, limited interests, and repetitive behaviors.

MacFabe said “Autism spectrum disorders affect up to one in 88 individuals. And the number appears to be increasing. Many have digestive and metabolic issues, but how they may relate to ASD behaviours and the increase of occurrence were unclear.”

In the current study, there were 213 children analyzed, 17 percent of those with ASD showed an unusual pattern of blood markers of fat metabolism known as acyl-carnitines. Researchers also found other evidence of irregular cellular energy function, such as decreased glutathione.

MacFabe concludes:

“This study suggests that autism in some patients can arise from alterations in mitochondrial function and fat metabolism following environmental exposure to propionic acid produced from ASD associated gut bacteria.”

In a study done earlier this month, researchers found evidence that an autism diagnosis and symptoms could be overlooked as an autistic child gets older. The authors noted that the methods in which autism is diagnosed need to be reviewed and updated.

Written by Kelly Fitzgerald