New work being carried out by the University of Reading hopes to discover whether probiotic products can be beneficial in the treatment of autistic children.
When researchers at Reading University screened stool samples from 150 autistic US-based children they found a prevalence of the toxin-producing bacteria clostridia. A study on the gut flora of 60 British children also showed clostridia was high in the autistic children but not in their brothers and sisters.
Strains of probiotic bacteria are now being screened to see which will intervene against clostridia and human trials will start this year.
Meanwhile, probiotic use is also helping hospital patients. Catherine Collins, chief dietitian at St George's Hospital in London says probiotics are useful in treating antibiotic associated diarrhoea. The hospital now puts live bio-yoghurts on the menu for sufferers.