Autistic boy
© Pixabay
The study involved 18 autistic children
Scientists are celebrating a "world-first discovery" which shows the "highest improvement" in child autism patients, using fecal transplants to massively curtail symptoms and greatly reduce suffering.

The results of the initial study involving 18 children show great promise: 83 percent of the children had "severe" autism symptoms, but just two years later, only 17 percent had "moderate" symptoms, while 44 percent fell below the threshold for "mild" autism.

The team recorded a roughly 45-percent drop in language, social, and behavioral issues in the children over the course of the study.

The initial success of the microbiota or 'fecal transfer' therapy adds further weight to the theory this, and many other, neurological conditions may be strongly connected to the gut rather than the brain.

"We are finding a very strong connection between the microbes that live in our intestines and signals that travel to the brain," Dr. Rosa Krajmalnik-Brown, a microbiologist at Arizona State University who jointly led the study, said, adding that, "Two years later, the children are doing even better, which is amazing."

In the US, one in every 59 children is diagnosed with some form of autism, which is a spectrum disorder, a vast increase in diagnosis from just one in every 150 in 2000. This means that half a million people on the autism spectrum will become adults in the next decade, "a swelling tide for which the country is unprepared," according to the researchers.

Gut brain communication.
© Shireen Dooling / Arizona State University
In children with autism, gastrointestinal symptoms such as constipation and diarrhea can cause irritability, decreased attention span, and negatively impact behavior, exacerbating other symptoms and making treatment and condition management far more difficult.

The regimen consists of pre-treatment with a bowel cleanse, administering a stomach acid suppressant and fecal transplants for between seven and eight weeks. The 'donation' of more diverse gut bacteria greatly boosts overall health and wellbeing in the patients.

Much larger trials are required before the treatment is officially approved by the US Food and Drug Administration.

The treatment was originally pioneered by Dr. Thomas Borody, an Australian gastroenterologist, who has hailed the results as a significant breakthrough.

"This is a world-first discovery... I would call it the highest improvement in a cohort that anyone has achieved for autism symptoms," he said.