In a new study, researchers have found an association between a blood marker indicating the presence of abnormal gut bacteria and autism in some children diagnosed with the neurodevelopmental disorder.
In the journal Translational Psychiatry, the investigators describe finding evidence of impaired energy metabolism in a group of autistic children due to high levels of propionic acid produced by certain gut bacteria frequently found in those with autism.
Autism rates have been steadily climbing in recent decades, with an estimated 1 in 88 children now diagnosed with the disorder, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This figure puts the incidence of the disorder at roughly twice what it was only a decade ago. Although better diagnoses and reporting may go some way to explain this, most researchers and doctors agree that autism is more common than it used to be.