Autism finding could lead to simple urine test for the condition

Study suggests that children with autism have a different chemical fingerprint in their urine

So says a news release from Imperial College, London, England.

The researchers examined urine samples collected by the University of Southern Australia from 3–9 year old children displaying Autism Spectrum Disorder, their unaffected siblings, and a control group from the same range, along with another control group collected by the Swiss Tropical Institute.

ASD is commonly associated with variant populations of bacteria in the gut, as well as with metabolic differences such as not being able to sulfate certain classes of compound, such as the widely used drug acetaminophen.  Antibiotic treatments commonly given to such individuals might only serve to exacerbate the imbalance gut bacteria.  I understand that many foods are "pre-processed" by these bacteria before being assimilated.

Anyway, their results showed that certain specific compounds in the urine, particularly nitrogen heterocycles, were present in significanlty higher concentrations in their urine than that of their siblings or the control groups.  In their conclusions, they give many caveat, such as that as yet cone cannot tell whether these metabolic differences cause or are a consequence of ASD.

Nevertheless, they suggest that urinary tests might be able to detect the precursors of ASD at a much younger age, perhaps six months, and so allow intervention to help development of infants before their difficulties become severe.


Urinary Metabolic Phenotyping Differentiates Children with Autism from Their Unaffected Siblings and Age-Matched Controls
Ivan K. S. Yap, Manya Angley,Kirill A. Veselkov,Elaine Holmes,John C. Lindon,Jeremy K. Nicholson,
Journal of Proteome Research 2010, 9, 2996–3004