In Autism, the Importance of the Gut

Dr. Kent Williams, a pediatric gastroenterologist at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, agrees that many doctors are reluctant to consider other possibilities. "My heart goes out to the parents, because this is a daily struggle," he said. "Some physicians don't know what to do, so they give up."

Margolis, Williams and a handful of doctors across the country take a different approach. Instead of concentrating on the brain, they treat the gut.

IMG_2895inset.jpgDr. Kara Margolis examines a patient. [Danielle Elliot]

"Many doctors don't recognize that aggressive behavior is not part of autism," Margolis said. "This is really a new field." Research is showing that a common cause of autistic children acting out is simply because they're constipated -- which, from there, can mean they stop sleeping and eating well. They may become aggressive and frustrated because they have no other way of saying that their stomachs hurt.

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