There is growing evidence for a gut-brain connection associated with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), which suggests a potential benefit for digestive enzyme therapy in autistic children (1). Working with an Egyptian team, Geir Bjørklund and collaborators performed a double-blind, randomized clinical trial on 101 children with ASD (82 boys and 19 girls) aged from 3 to 9 years (1).
The autistic children were diagnosed according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders 4th edition, text revision (DSM-IV-TR) diagnostic criteria. Structured interviews of at least one hour were first performed both with the parents and the children. In a later two hours session was the Childhood Autism Rating Scale (CARS) applied.
After this, the children with ASD were randomized to receive digestive enzymes or placebo (1). It was found that autistic children that received digestive enzyme therapy for three months had significant improvement in emotional response, general impression autistic score, general behavior, and gastrointestinal symptoms. These results indicate that digestive enzyme therapy in the future may be a possible option in the treatment protocols for ASD (1).
The first author of the article, Khaled Saad, is an Associate Professor of Pediatrics at Assiut University, Assiut, Egypt. Geir Bjørklund is the founder and president of the Council for Nutritional and Environmental Medicine (CONEM).
1. Saad K, Eltayeb AA, Mohamad IL, Al-Atram AA, Elserogy Y, Bjørklund G, El-Houfey AA, Nicholson B. A randomized, placebo-controlled trial of digestive enzymes in children with autism spectrum disorders. Clin Psychopharmacol Neurosci 2015; 13(2): 188-193.