Compared to the general healthy population, people with autism have a higher incidence of associated disorders that have serious implications for the individual’s overall condition and prognosis. Many people with autism spectrum disorders suffer from disorders of the digestive system. In ASD, they occur more frequently than in the general population. Studies report their presence in 23-70% of ASD individuals, making it one of the most common comorbidities. Digestive problems have various causes, including food selectivity – selectivity in the diet, the presence of which is reported in 70% of children with ASD. In our projects we deal with the occurrence of different types of digestive problems and their relationship with the composition of the intestinal microbiota, nutrition, food selectivity and behavioral characteristics in children with ASD….More

Gastrointestinal symptoms and nutritional problems, their relationships with dietary interventions, nutritional supplements, and behavior in children with autism spectrum disorders

Of the children with ASD who participated in the study, almost 90% had digestive problems and two-thirds had feeding problems such as picky, angry, or stereotyped behaviour. Digestive problems were more common in girls and appear to be one of the helpful biomarkers in the diagnosis of ASD. Many children followed one of the elimination diets, including those who were selective in their diet. Almost two thirds of children with ASD, but also children from the general population, took nutritional supplements. We have demonstrated an association between the nuclear symptoms of ASD and gastrointestinal or nutritional problems.

Babinska K, Celusakova H, Belica I, Szapuova Z, Waczulikova I, Nemcsicsova D, Tomova A, Ostatnikova D.Babinska K, et al. Gastrointestinal Symptoms and Feeding Problems and Their Associations with Dietary Interventions, Food Supplement Use, and Behavioral Characteristics in a Sample of Children and Adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorders. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2020 Sep 1;17(17):6372. doi: 10.3390/ijerph17176372.Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2020. PMID: 32882981

Selectivity in diet (not only) in autism spectrum disorders and possibilities of its solution

Adequate intake of qualitatively and quantitatively balanced food is essential for healthy psychosomatic development in children and adolescents. At present, experts are focusing on the prevention of excessive calorie intake in children, however, according to research, 3-4% of children suffer from severe non-somatic rejection, known as psychogenic loss of appetite. The “waiting” method is currently the most commonly used treatment for this disorder, but behavioral therapy techniques have been shown to be the most effective intervention. The aim of our work is to describe the basic etiological aspects of psychogenic loss of appetite and to present the techniques that are internationally widely used in the psychotherapy of this disorder. The techniques are mainly based on the principles of behavioral therapy, with the primary goal of changing behavior. The understanding and application of those strategies is beneficial not only for the scientific community, but also for the clinical workers and parents.

Čelárová, D., Babinská, K., Celušáková, Hana., Ostatníková, D: Behaviorálne stratégie v terapii psychogénnej straty chuti do jedla v detstve = Behavioral approaches in the therapy of pediatric feeding disorders. Československá psychologie. – Roč. 63, č. 1 (2019) s. 116-126

Gastrointestinal disorders and aggressive behavior in children with ASD

Irritation in the GI system is thought to affect neurohumoral processes in the central nervous system and is involved in the development of behavioral manifestations. In the project, we analyzed the relationship between the symptoms of GI dysfunction, the degree of autism and behavioral parameters in a group of 102 individuals with ASD aged 3-18 years. We found that the severity of GI dysfunction was significantly correlated with the degree of physical aggression. There was also a statistically significant association between GI dysfunction and qualitative abnormalities in reciprocal social interaction and delayed speech development, as well as problem behavior, hypersensitivity, hyperactivity, self-harm, and self-isolation / ritualism. Based on the results, it can be hypothesized that the symptomatic treatment of GI dysfunction will translate into alleviation of aggression, behavioral manifestations of ASD, and will help improve the quality of life of an individual with ASD and his whole family.

Association of conduct problems and gastrointestinal symptoms in individuals with autism spectrum disorders. Babinská K, Pivovarčiová A, Filčíková D, Tomova A, Ostatníková D. Act Nerv Super Rediviva 2016; 58(3): 69–72

Influence of dietary peculiarities on the intestinal microbiota in children with autism spectrum disorders

The results of the study showed that dietary energy intake was not different in children with ASD and without ASD, but children with ASD were more likely to show dietary selectivity. In children with ASD, we found an association between higher dietary fibre intake and reduced alpha diversity. Similarly, higher carbohydrate and fibre intake modified beta-diversity and altered the presence of some microorganisms, such as Bacteroides or Clostridiaceae. The study suggests Dichelobacter, Nitriliruptor and Constrictibacter could be among the biomarkers of ASD, as well as that nutritional modulation could modify the intestinal microbiota of children with ASD.

Tomova A, Soltys K, Kemenyova P, Karhanek M, Babinska K.Tomova A, et al. The Influence of Food Intake Specificity in Children with Autism on Gut Microbiota. Int J Mol Sci. 2020 Apr 17;21(8):2797.

Neuroglia and autism spectrum disorders

Studies suggest the involvement of glial cells in ASD pathomechanisms. S100B is a protein found mainly in astrocytes and is therefore used as an indicator of their activity. In our study, children with autism had higher plasma concentrations of S100B compared to non-autistic controls. Plasma concentrations of S100B correlated significantly with urinary serotonin, suggesting their interconnection. The correlation of S100B plasma levels also correlated with faecal calprotectin levels, suggesting that not only astrocytes but also enteric glial cells may be involved in the pathogenesis of autism. Based on our findings, S100B appears to have the potential to serve as a biomarker of neurodevelopmental disorders.

Tomova A, Keményová P, Filčíková D, Szapuová Ž, Kováč A, Babinská K, Ostatníková D.Tomova A, et al.: Plasma levels of glial cell marker S100B in children with autism, Physiol Res. 2019 Dec 20;68(Suppl 3):S315-S323. doi: 10.33549/physiolres.934350.Physiol Res. 2019. PMID: 31928049 v