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Fri Jan 20, 2012, 12:09 PM

A Gut Check for Many Ailments [View all]


A growing body of research shows the gut affects bodily functions far beyond digestion. Studies have shown intriguing links from the gut's health to bone formation, learning and memory and even conditions including Parkinson's disease. Recent research found disruptions to the stomach or intestinal bacteria can prompt depression and anxiety—at least in lab rats.
The gut—considered as a single digestive organ that includes the esophagus, stomach and intestines—has its own nervous system that allows it to operate independently from the brain.
In a study of 23 autistic children and nine typically developing kids, a bacterium unique to the intestines of those with autism called Sutterella was discovered.

The results, published online in the journal mBio by researchers at Columbia's school of public health, need to be studied further, but suggest Sutterella may be important in understanding the link between autism and digestive ailments, the authors wrote.

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