Quackery Exposed: Fecal Microbiota Transplant

Fecal transplant is another treatment said to cure autism. Recently in the news, Melissa Eaton exposed them. What is Fecal Microbiota Transplant (FMT)?

FMT is a procedure that delivers healthy human donor stool to a patient via colonoscopy, enema, nasogastric tube, or in capsules (known as poop pills). It is only prescribed for serious C. Diff infections. 

  • C. diff is a serious infection — one that causes debilitating diarrhea and in the U.S., in 2011 alone, C. diff was responsible for 29,000 deaths in adults. Treating C. diff begins with administering antibiotics; however, recurrence is common. By the third episode of severe C. diff, it is unlikely antibiotics will cure the infection; so, your child’s doctor may consider FMT as an option. It is still an experimental procedure and should only be done under medical intervention. 

How does FMT work?

The GI tract has an “ecosystem” of thousands of bacteria and other organisms that help keep the body healthy. When your child is given an antibiotic, this ecosystem is disrupted, allowing the growth of disease-causing bacteria, such as C. diff.
With a fecal transplant, “good” microorganisms from the donor stool are infused into the patient. Healthy bacteria begin to grow and prevent C. diff from recurring.
Stool donors are rigorously screened and stool samples are extensively tested before being used for FMT
About the FMT procedure
  • Colonoscopy: A thin hollow tube with an attached camera is placed up the colon and a catheter-tipped syringe is used to inject donor stool through the channel.
  • Enema: Although, less invasive than a colonoscopy, a fecal enema often needs to be performed more than once, because the donor stool doesn’t reach the colon.
  • Nasogastric (NG) tube: Using a thin, flexible feeding tube, doctors insert donor stool through a patient’s nostril, down the throat and into the stomach.
  • Oral capsules, known as “poop pills.”

The long-term results of FMT are unknown, so you’ll need to sign an informed-consent form on behalf of your child.
To prepare for the transplant, your child should have an empty GI tract. This often means drinking only clear fluids and abstaining from eating for 24 hours before the procedure.
If your child has mild or moderate C. diff, they may also be asked to drink a liquid to encourage a bowel movement; however, children with more severe infections will not follow this same protocol.

Risks of FMT

When the procedure is used for its intended purpose, there is a risk of infection transmission. There are the HIV, hepatitis and retrovirus. In the proper setting, all donor stool is tested thoroughly to minimize this. 

It is an experimental procedure. There are many risks that are unknown. To undergo this is very risky.