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Keywords:

  • Autism;
  • intestinal permeability

We determined the occurrence of gut mucosal damage using the intestinal permeability test in 21 autistic children who had no clinical and laboratory findings consistent with known intestinal disorders. An altered intestinal permeability was found in 9 of the 21 (43%) autistic patients, but in none of the 40 controls. Compared to the controls, these nine patients showed a similar mean mannitol recovery, but a significantly higher mean lactulose recovery (1.64%± 1.43 vs 0.38%±0.14; P < 0.001). We speculate that an altered intestinal permeability could represent a possible mechanism for the increased passage through the gut mucosa of peptides derived from foods with subsequent behavioural abnormalities.