Different dietary approaches, such as gluten and casein free diets, or the use of probiotics and prebiotics have been suggested in autistic spectrum disorders in order to reduce gastrointestinal (GI) disturbances.
GI symptoms are of particular interest in this population due to prevalence and correlation with the severity of behavioural traits. Nowadays, there is lack of strong evidence about the effect of dietary interventions on these problems, particularly prebiotics. Therefore, we assessed the impact of exclusion diets and a 6-week Bimuno® galactooligosaccharide (B-GOS®) prebiotic intervention in 30 autistic children.
The results showed that children on exclusion diets reported significantly lower scores of abdominal pain and bowel movement, as well as lower abundance of Bifidobacterium spp. and Veillonellaceae family, but higher presence of Faecalibacterium prausnitzii and Bacteroides spp. In addition, significant correlations were found between bacterial populations and faecal amino acids in this group, compared to children following an unrestricted diet.
Following B-GOS® intervention, we observed improvements in anti-social behaviour, significant increase of Lachnospiraceae family, and significant changes in faecal and urine metabolites.
To our knowledge, this is the first study where the effect of exclusion diets and prebiotics has been evaluated in autism, showing potential beneficial effects. A combined dietary approach resulted in significant changes in gut microbiota composition and metabolism suggesting that multiple interventions might be more relevant for the improvement of these aspects as well as psychological traits.