Thursday, August 21, 2014

Autism and risk of GI issues

This article discusses why children with autism may be at an increased risk of having gastrointestinal issues.

Children with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are more likely to deal with gastrointestinal issues, than non-ASD children, according to recent findings published in the journalPediatrics.
Despite lack of attention to the linked health issues, researchers are now more closely examining this possible connection. Findings revealed that children with an ASD were four times more likely to experience general GI complaints and up to three times more likely to experience constipation or diarrhea than their non-ASD counterparts, according to Medical Xpress. In fact, these children complained about abdominal pain twice as often as other peers not dealing with the cognitive health issue.
For the study, researchers at the Marcus Autism Center, Children's Healthcare of Atlanta and Emory University School of Medicine, conducted an analysis to determine the link.
"One was to survey what we know about these issues-and we don't know much," said co-study author William Sharp, director of the Pediatric Feeding Disorders Program at Marcus Autism and assistant professor of pediatrics at the School of Medicine, in a news release. "There have been only fifteen studies published in the past 32 years that have really good experimental controls. "We also hope this study prompts the medical community to increase its focus on the prevalence, cause, and remediation of these issues."
Researchers noted that in the past 32 years, only 15 studies have been published with good experimental control groups to examine any connections between these health issues. 
However, while this new research confirms a connection to these two health issues based on the anecdotal experience of pediatricians and parents, it does not show a casual relationship.
Furthermore, researchers reiterate the need for more research strictly focusing on GI symptoms experienced in ASD populations.
"Clearly, consideration should be given to the high rate of feeding problems and related behavioral issues such as toileting concerns documented in this population," Sharp added.
At this time, researchers do not have enough evidence to suggest a unique GI pathology in children with an ASD. 
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