Studies have shown that around 70 percent of people with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) have a variant of gastrointestinal disorder, including gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and gastritis. If left untreated, these conditions could lead to chronic pain and certain behavioral manifestations like aggressive behavior and the tendency to self-injure. Now, recent research suggests that gene mutations found in both the gut and brain could be the main culprit for the GI woes of patients with ASD.
A study published in the journal Autism Research confirms the existence of a gut-brain nervous system link in autism, opening a new path in the search for potential effective treatments that target behavioral issues associated with autism. The researchers claim that this is the first study to confirm that the gut and brain share autism-related gene mutations.
"Our findings suggest these gastrointestinal problems may stem from the same mutations in genes that are responsible for brain and behavioral issues in autism," said corresponding author Elisa Hill-Yardin. "It's a whole new way of thinking about it — for clinicians, families and researchers — and it broadens our horizons in the search for treatments to improve the quality of life for people with autism."