A new study has found that children with autism who have severe gastrointestinal disease have a significant level of autoantibodies, which attack an individual's own tissue instead of foreign invaders.
"The more autoantibodies the individual had, the more severe their disease was," says Dr. A.J. Russo, research director of the Health Research Institute at the Pfeiffer Treatment Center, which conducted the research in collaboration with the Thoughtful House Center for Children.
The findings give a better understanding of how children's own immune system can be involved in problems in the GI tract, he says. In the future, this may help doctors use less invasive techniques, such as an endoscopy, to measure the severity of disease. "As far as the actual practical use of these findings, it's a little bit too early," Russo says. "But maybe in the future we'll be able to develop that."