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GI Symptoms And Autism Are Linked In Children

Update Date: Aug 05, 2014 10:02 AM EDT

Children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), compared to non-ASD children, are four times more likely to experience general gastrointestinal (GI) complaints, a new study has found. 

According to the study, children with ASD are also more likely to experience constipation and diarrhea. The study further noted that these children complained about abdominal pain twice as often as their non-ASD peers. 

"One was to survey what we know about these issues-and we don't know much," said coauthor William Sharp, director of the Pediatric Feeding Disorders Program at Marcus Autism Center and assistant professor of pediatrics at the School of Medicine, in the press release. 

"There have been only fifteen studies published in the past thirty-two 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."

The study confirms the anecdotal experiences of pediatricians and parents, but it doesn't claim a casual relationship. 

"While we detected greater GI symptoms in ASD, our results also highlight a clear need for more research focusing on GI system in this population," Sharp added. "This includes what may be contributing to greater GI prevalence in ASD. Clearly, consideration should be given to the high rate of feeding problems and related behavioral issues such as toileting concerns documented in this population. At this time, we do not have evidence suggesting a unique GI pathology in ASD."

The study has been published in the journal Pediatrics

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