By Dr. Mallika Marshall

BOSTON (CBS) – The health of a mother’s gut may affect her child’s risk of developing autism. That’s according to a new study from the University of Virginia School of Medicine.

The microbiome is the collection of organisms that live in all of us, like in our guts and on our skin. In recent years, scientists have discovered that having a healthy microbiome not only helps keep your gut healthy but also supports your immune system and can help prevent a variety of disorders.

Now based on studies in rodents, researchers believe that an unhealthy microbiome in a mom’s gut while pregnant can make a baby more susceptible to developing neurodevelopmental disorders like autism.

Scientists say organisms in the gut can shape the developing brain and can affect how a baby’s immune system responds to injury or stress, but they believe that by altering a mom’s microbiome either through diet or probiotic supplements, they might be able to reduce that risk.

Dr. Mallika Marshall