The Gut Microbiome’s Role in Autism Gets Murkier

The Gut Microbiome’s Role in Autism Gets Murkier

Grace Browne Science 11.19.2021 07:00 AM The Gut Microbiome’s Role in Autism Gets Murkier As scientists look for a link between digestive-tract microbes and autism, some questionable treatments have surfaced. A new study says they’ve got it all backwards. Save this story for later. Photograph: STEVE GSCHMEISSNER/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY/Getty Images The microbiome has become one of the hottest buzzwords in science. And specifically, the gut microbiome—the delicate colony of microbes camped out in your digestive tract—has attracted intense attention from scientists and quacks alike. Our abundant microbial inhabitants have been theorized to influence our mind and behavior, and may play a role in conditions such as Parkinson’s disease and depression . But some advocates have put the cart before the horse, and pushed the theory to link the microbiome to nearly every illness or condition. And a condition as poorly understood as autism presents a particular inviting area for probing. We don’t yet know the root cause of autism, though genetic factors are thought to be involved. But some research has hinted that the gut plays a role. Much of the evidence to support the theory has come from studies in animals; for example, when scientists put fecal samples […]

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