NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Contrary to some earlier findings, children with autism are no more or less likely to have gastrointestinal symptoms, in general, than their unaffected peers, according to a report in the journal Pediatrics.
However, the report suggests that certain symptoms, namely constipation and feeding issues, are more common in children with autism.
The current study, which featured 121 subjects with autism and 242 without, is hardly the first to look at gastrointestinal symptoms in patients with autism. In fact, last week a report was released showing no link between autism and bowel movement patterns (see Reuters Health eLine report, July 22, 2009), in a hint of how varied the results have been.
Only two of the children with autism in the present study had specific gastrointestinal diseases such as Crohn's disease, an inflammatory bowel condition.
As noted, autism patients did have higher rates of constipation (34 percent vs. 18 percent) and feeding issues (25 percent vs. 16 percent) than did those without the disorder.
The findings mean that there is no reason to give children with autism treatments for gastrointestinal disorders in the hope that it may improve their autistic symptoms, study co-author Dr. Samar H. Ibrahim, from the Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota, told Reuters Health. If there is evidence of gastrointestinal disorders, however, such treatments are appropriate.
SOURCE: Pediatrics 2009;124:680-686.