Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Mom's Gut Can Determine Child's Autism Risk

A new study published in The Journal of Immunology has found a link between the gut microbiome and autism. According to the researchers from the Center for Brain Immunology at the University of Virginia, it is not our own microbiome that could affect whether or not we develop autism – it is our mom's.

The microbiome can shape the developing brain in multiple ways," John Lukens, lead researcher explained… and an unhealthy microbiome in the mom can create problems for the baby.

What is the microbiome?

The microbiome is the collection of Bacteria, that live inside your intestines. Most of the microbes in your intestines are found in a "pocket" of your large intestine called the cecum, and they are referred to as the gut microbiome. There are up to 1,000 species of bacteria in the human gut microbiome, and each of them plays a different role in your body. Science is increasingly revealing its vital importance to good health.

Scientist say that our microbiome can affect:

  • Digestion of breast milk and fiber 
  • our immune system, 
  • the nervous system and brain health, 
  • heart health, 
  • blood sugar levels. 
  • gut health and may play a role in intestinal diseases like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and inflammatory bowel disease 


The mouse based study found that the mother’s microbiome during pregnancy helps calibrates something called interleukin 17a (IL-17a).

Interleukin 17a is a molecule that creates inflammation in the immune system and it is also something that, at least in mice, has been found to act as a key contributor to the development of autism-like disorders. IL-17a has also been linked to infertility and various inflammatory and autoimmune diseases including psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis (RA), multiple sclerosis (MS) or Crohn’s disease (CD).

This study’s findings suggest that some forms of autism could then be prevented either by modifying the pregnant mother’s microbiome, or by directly blocking IL-17a signaling.

While directly blocking IL-17a would be a tempting quick fix (especially since IL-17a blockers already exist), it might actually do more harm than good since the molecule also plays a key role in preventing infections. Blocking IL-17a during pregnancy could thus make the baby susceptible to all kinds of infections….the good news is that a healthy microbiome achievable by altering an expectant mother’s diet or taking ‘custom probiotics’ could naturally block IL-17a.

Bottom line: The gut microbiome of pregnant mothers is very important to how the offspring’s immune system is going to respond to an infection, injury, or stress. There are a wide range of probiotics with diverse effects on the immune system - talk to your doctor if you are thinking of becoming pregnant or already pregnant and would like to explore probiotics that could help boost your microbiome talk to your doctor.

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