Harvard researchers confirm Gl/autism link
AUTISM RESEARCH REVIEW INTERNATIONAL
Vol. 20, No.1, 2006
Harvard physician Timothy Buie recently reported that biopsies performed by him revealed the presence of chronic inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract, as well as the presence oflymphoid nodular hyperplasia, in 15 of 89 autistic children. The findings parallel those of Andrew Wakefield, the researcher who first identified the presence of a unique type of gastrointestinal disorder in children with autism spectrum disorders. Buie told a conference in December, “These children are ill, in distress and pain, and not just mentally, neurologically dysfunctional.”
Buie, Rafail Kushak, and colleagues also have measured the activity of dissaccharidases (enzymes that break down carbohydrates in the intestine) in tissues obtained from duodenal biopsies from 308 autistic individuals, comparing them to samples from 206 non-autistic controls. All of the subjects underwent endoscopy for suspected gastrointestinal problems. The researchers report, “Autistic individuals with diarrhea [206 individuals] demonstrated significantly lower maltase activity than non-autistic individuals with diarrhea. Frequency of lactase deficiency in autistic individuals with failure to thrive [five individuals] was significantly higher (80% vs. 25%) than in non-autistic individuals with failure to thrive, and frequency of palatinase deficiency in autistic individuals with diarrhea was significantly higher than in nonautistic individuals with the same gastrointestinal problem.” Autistic and non-autistic individuals with other gastrointestinal problems exhibited similar frequencies of disaccharidase deficiencies.
These findings further support the link between autism and a novel form of gastrointestinal disease, and are consistent with clinical evidence that many autistic children improve physically and behaviorally when they are placed on gluten- and casein-free diets and receive supplements of disaccharidase enzymes.
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“Gastrointestinal symptoms and intestinal disaccharidase activities in children with autism,” Rafail Kushak, Harland Winter, Nathan Farber, and Timothy Buie, Abstract of presentation to the North American Society of Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology, and Nutrition, Annual Meeting, October 20-22, 2005, Salt Lake City, Utah.
“Gastrointestinal symptoms and intestinal disaccharidase activities in children with autism,” Rafail Kushak, Harland Winter, Nathan Farber, and Timothy Buie, Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition, Vol. 41, No.4, October 2005.
“Harvard Clinic scientist finds gut/autism link, like Wakefield findings,” FEAT Newsletter, December 2005. Address: Rafail I. Kushak, Pediatric GI/Nu- trition, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA02l14.