Gastrointestinal Symptoms More Common in Children With Autism A new study indicates that children with autism spectrum disorder are more than four times more likely to experience general gastrointestinal complaints compared with peers, are more than three times as prone to experience constipation and diarrhea than peers, and complain twice as much about abdominal pain compared to peers. ... Research in Brief
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Research in Brief  |   July 01, 2014
Gastrointestinal Symptoms More Common in Children With Autism
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Special Populations / Autism Spectrum / Research in Brief
Research in Brief   |   July 01, 2014
Gastrointestinal Symptoms More Common in Children With Autism
The ASHA Leader, July 2014, Vol. 19, 13. doi:10.1044/leader.RIB2.19072014.13
The ASHA Leader, July 2014, Vol. 19, 13. doi:10.1044/leader.RIB2.19072014.13
A new study indicates that children with autism spectrum disorder are more than four times more likely to experience general gastrointestinal complaints compared with peers, are more than three times as prone to experience constipation and diarrhea than peers, and complain twice as much about abdominal pain compared to peers. The results are reported in the April 28 online early edition of Pediatrics.
Although parents frequently express concern about gastrointestinal symptoms in children with ASD, this study is the first meta-analysis of all published, peer-reviewed research related to the topic.
“Our findings corroborate a history of anecdotal reports and case studies suggesting increased risk of GI concerns in autism,” says co-author William Sharp, director of the Pediatric Feeding Disorders Program at Marcus Autism Center and assistant professor of pediatrics at Emory University School of Medicine. “This analysis reinforces the need for greater clinical and research scrutiny in this area to guide best standards of care and to address important questions regarding the detection and treatment of GI symptoms among children with autism.”
Detecting and studying GI concerns in children with ASD are complicated by the unique combination of behavioral, neurological and medical issues associated with the condition. Most notably, limited verbal communication makes it difficult for patients with ASD to communicate information about symptoms. Parents and medical professionals must rely on nonverbal signs—such as self-injury, aggression or irritability—outside of the routine GI diagnostic evaluation.
The authors emphasize the need to develop a standardized screening instrument and clinical guidelines for conducting GI examinations on children with ASD, particularly nonverbal children. Detailed, standardized screening procedures would enhance detection and increase increasing awareness of what to look for among children with ASD suspected of GI disorders.
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July 2014
Volume 19, Issue 7