Pilot Study Suggests Normal Fungi Levels in Children with ASD

November 15, 2021

Research Also Claims Fungi Levels Are Not Associated with Gut Inflammation

A new pilot study has examined the levels of candida species (a type of fungi) in children with autism spectrum disorder.  The study’s authors stated that they were compelled to research this topic due to the limited evidence which indicates that candida is more prevalent in children with ASD. To conduct this investigation, they enrolled 20 children with autism and gastrointestinal symptoms (ASD + GI), 10 children with autism but no gastrointestinal symptoms (ASD – GI), and 20 typically developing (TD) children. Each subject’s fecal microbiome was analyzed by ITS sequencing, which identifies novel fungal species, explores structure of fungal communities, and determines the role of fungi in the human body.  Also evaluated were the children’s GI symptoms, behavioral symptoms, gut inflammation levels and fungal immunity. The study’s results showed no changes in the abundance of total fungal species between groups. Samples with identifiable Candida species were present in 21% of the ASD + GI group, 56% of ASD – GI group, and 25% of the TD children. The authors reported that the presence of Candida did not correspond with behavioral or GI symptoms and there was no increased fungal immunity in children with ASD. The study concluded that fungi are present in normal levels in the feces of children on the spectrum and are not linked to gut inflammation. These findings seem to contradict many studies which report an association between the contents of the microbiome and ASD. A 2019 study reported altered microbiome composition in patients with autism compared to healthy controls. A meta-analysis also from 2019, concluded that people with ASD have significant alterations of their gut microbiota. Ultimately, it is important to keep in mind that the microbiome consists of more than just fungi. Its contents also contain bacteria, protozoa and viruses. 

Original Study Abstract

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