Autistica network

Gastrointestinal symptoms in autism

An investigation of the parent-observed link between behaviour symptoms and the dietary management of gastrointestinal symptoms in children with autism

London Family In person

Why is this research being done?

Gastrointestinal problems are common in autistic people. Research suggests that gastrointestinal problems are linked with atypical behaviours in autistic children. Anton Emmanuel and his team at University College London want to understand whether probiotics can help improve gastrointestinal problems and atypical behaviours in autistic children. They also want to understand which children will respond best to probiotics to help inform treatment choice for parents and clinicians. They hope this research will contribute towards our understanding of the effectiveness of probiotics as a treatment for gastrointestinal problems.

Who are they looking for?

This study is recruiting children who:

  • are currently between 3 and 16 years of age
  • have a diagnosis of autism
  • have experienced at least one gastrointestinal problem in the past six months

What will be involved?

If you join the study, you and your child will be asked to attend appointments in a clinic at University College London Hospital. Your child will take part in some assessments about their gastrointestinal problems and their diet. You will also be asked to complete some questionnaires about your child. Your child will be randomly allocated to group A or group B, by tossing a coin or rolling a dice. Based on the group allocation, your child will receive either a daily probiotic or an alternative substance for 12 weeks. After the 12 weeks, you and your child will have a 4 week break. Then your child will switch to the other group for the following 12 weeks. Throughout the study, the researchers will also collect stool samples from your child.