Children with autism are
far more likely to have digestive problems than those without the
neurodevelopmental disorder, a new study finds.
The gastrointestinal issues
(GI) appear linked to autism-related behavioural problems, such as social
withdrawal, irritability and repetitive behaviours, according to the research
team at the University of California, Davis.
"Parents of children
with autism have long said that their kids endure more GI problems, but little
has been known about the true prevalence of these complications or their
underlying causes," study lead author Virginia Chaidez said in a
university news release.
For the study, published
online in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, the
researchers looked at nearly 1 000 children in California between 2 and 5 years
of age and found that gastrointestinal issues such as constipation, diarrhoea
and sensitivity to food occurred six to eight times more often in those with
autism than in other children.
"The GI problems they
experience may be bidirectional," Chaidez noted. "GI problems may
create behaviour problems, and those behaviour problems may create or
exacerbate GI problems. One way to try to tease this out would be to begin
investigating the effects of various treatments and their effects on both GI
symptoms and problem behaviours."
Understanding the impact of
gastrointestinal problems in children with autism could provide new insight
into appropriate treatments that may have the potential to decrease their
tummy-related problem behaviours, the researchers said.
The US National Institute
of Neurological Disorders and Stroke has more about autism.
(Picture: Child with stomach ache from Shutterstock)