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Healing Microbes May Offer Some Relief For Children Diagnosed With Autism

WESTLAKE VILLAGE ( — Researches have made a discovery through harnessing stomach bacteria that could help families impacted by autism.

Autism is a neurological disorder that can include speech and behavior problems.

Wyatt Jackson, 12, of Westlake Village was diagnosed with autism at an early age.

Although he has come a long way with managing symptoms of the disorder, Wyatt still struggles with the many challenges of autism.

His mother, Nancy Alspaugh-Jackson, explained to CBS2's Lisa Sigell on Friday that she devoted her entire life to learning everything she could about her son's condition.

Wyatt's problems began when he was 18 months old, Alspaugh-Jackson explained.

"He had severe bloating at the age of 2," added Alspaugh-Jackson. "There was a seemingly endless cycle of constipation and diarrhea."

Sarkis Mazmanian, a microbiologist at Caltech, shared with Sigell that 40 percent to 90 percent of children diagnosed with autism have some sort of gastrointestinal complication.

Mazmanian went on to explain that it makes sense that children with brain differences would also have stomach trouble.

"Our intestines are loaded with bacteria," Mazmanian said. "Microbes can influence decision-making."

Alspaugh-Jackson said Wyatt is now able to speak, and his other symptoms aren't nearly as bad as they were when he was younger.

She attributed his progress to a restricted diet, which mostly included a daily probiotic.

Mazmanian's team has identified a microbe that seems to repair intestinal defects.

"Our goal is to develop the next generation of probiotics," added Mazmanian.

Sigell reported that researchers hope to begin clinical trials on children diagnosed with autism within the next two years.

For more information on Mazmanian's research, and to see her webinar series click here.

For more on Nancy Alspaugh-Jackson and her autism advocacy <a href="" target="_blank">click here</a>.

*Produced by Gerri Shaftel Constant, CBS2 Medical Producer

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