Doctors know that autistic children usually have a range of gut problems, so researchers from the Arizona State University decided to find out if it was more than coincidence. They analysed the gut flora of 20 autistic children aged between three and 16 years and compared them to samples from 20 healthy children. The autistic children had fewer types of gut bacteria, and they were also low in three critical varieties: Prevotella, Coprococcus and Veillonellaceae. Of these, Prevotella is the most important as it plays a vital role in gut interaction.
The researchers don't know, however, why levels are lower in the autistic child, but if it can be established that the MMR vaccine can destabilise gut flora, Andrew Wakefield may finally have been proved right.
(Source: PLoS ONE, 2013; 8: e68322).