Therapy and epidemiology of autism--clostridial spores as key elements

Med Hypotheses. 2008;70(3):508-11. doi: 10.1016/j.mehy.2007.07.019. Epub 2007 Sep 29.


This manuscript reviews evidence indicating that intestinal bacteria, specifically clostridia, may play a role in certain cases of autism and hypothesizes that the clostridial spores (which are notably resistant to antimicrobial agents and commonly used germicides) are involved in: (1) relapse in the autistic subject after a response to an agent such as oral vancomycin, after the drug is discontinued, (2) the unexplained increased incidence of autism in recent years, and (3) the unexplained increase in numbers of multiple cases in the same family. Hypothesis (1), if established as valid, would spur research to find well-tolerated and safe agents that could be given together with vancomycin (or other appropriate antimicrobial agent) to eliminate spores; this would revolutionize the therapeutic approach. Hypotheses (2) and (3) relate to widespread use of antimicrobial agents, poor hygiene in young autistic children, and difficulty in removing spores from the home environment. These latter two hypotheses have major implications with regard to the epidemiology of this important and distressing disease and would encourage research into methods to eliminate clostridial spores from the home and other environments.

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use
  • Autistic Disorder / drug therapy
  • Autistic Disorder / epidemiology*
  • Autistic Disorder / microbiology*
  • Child
  • Clostridium tetani / isolation & purification*
  • Feces / microbiology
  • Humans
  • Models, Biological
  • Spores, Bacterial / isolation & purification*
  • Tetanus / drug therapy*
  • Tetanus / psychology*


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents