whistlestop caboose

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www.zidao.com Apprentice harmonizer, for sheer fun. Journeywoman writer, for work and pleasure. Starting point was Iowa, current stopping point on this journey is Switzerland, with frequent pauses around the world to watch and listen to the crowd, and occasionally make comments.

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Wednesday, August 16, 2006

The lively world inside our guts

After writing about obesity in the world yesterday I came across this article in today's New York Times, about a possible link between obesity and microflora, the livey world inside our bodies' instestinal systems. Please note: you can read it in its entirety today, but after August 16 you have to have a (free) subscription.

It intrigued me not so much for the fat factors that the article focuses on but because the research here seems to give yet mroe evidence that our intestinal systems shift and change over time and are subject to many outside factors.

This interests me because our daughter Tara is autistic and, like many autistic children, she has had a lifetime of digestive problems. They shift and change over time and despite myriad tests no one has ever been able to explain the source or cause of the problems. For several years she had diarrhea, then she went the other direction and just as inexplicably the problems appeared to disappear. She doesn't speak, so the signs of distress are sometimes missed. Like many autistic children, she appears to have a high pain threshold, so she could be, or have been, tolerating stomach pain without anyone knowing it.

Tara is 14. When we first began to talk to doctors about intestinal problems, 13 years ago, everyone told us there was no link between autism and gut issues. As the years have gone by and families with autistic children have come together on the Internet it has become clearer that there is a link, for a very large percentage of the autistic population. The link may only be one of effect rather than cause, that if you are autistic you may have health problems and these may result in internal flora problems.

As always with our daughter, she lives with question marks over her, and the tummy troubles over the years are part of just one of these.

But I watch, intrigued, while someone looks at obesity and microflora, thinking these people might unwittingly provide some clues to autism and related disorders.


Blogger Christopher C. in Hawaii said...

That is interesting in a lot of ways. Is it possible for the online Autism group to do its own study of sorts to determine if there is a difference in intestinal problems between Autistic children in developed western cultures and less developed places.

Specifically I would be looking to see if there was a difference created by the use of highly processed foods and factory farmed animal products and the over use of antibiotics by western medicine which could kill off the microflora of the intestinal system of kids in the more developed countries.

Some other aspect of autism may make them more susceptible to being affected by that.

7:25 PM  
Blogger whistlestop caboose said...

Thanks, Christopher. There is more and more research being done, and some of it along these lines. There certainly is a school of thought that this is at least part of the problem. Results take years, but at least more is being done than in the past. And the more you research the more complex the picture looks - each bit of the puzzle seems to make the puzzle appear larger! But there are a lot of online parent and professional groups that look at this, and discuss it - that's good.

12:11 PM  

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