Many people will associate autism with traits including atypical social interactions, repetitive behaviours, and difficulties with speech and communication.
But perhaps lesser known is the fact people with autism are more likely to experience gastrointestinal disorders than the general population.
One review found children with autism were four times more likely to report gastrointestinal symptoms than children without a diagnosis. A number of studies in the review reported the prevalence of gut problems was the same among boys and girls.
The offspring of mice that received microbes from boys with autism showed behaviours that could be relevant to autism (they buried more marbles in their cage bedding, potentially an indication of repetitive behaviour), compared to mice who were transplanted with microbes from typically developing children.
Other studies have tested if changing gut microbes by treating patients with prebiotics (food for the bacteria in your gut) or probiotics (helpful bacteria) can affect autism behaviours. But a review of these studies showed no consensus – in other words, some studies showed an effect, while others didn’t.