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Autistic Kids Often Fussier Eaters, but Nutrition OK
Date:7/19/2010

By Jenifer Goodwin
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, July 19 (HealthDay News) -- As many parents of autistic children can attest, youngsters with the disorder are often slower to eat solid foods and become pickier eaters as they get older, new research shows.

However, the good news from the study is that the nutrition and growth of these kids typically doesn't seem to suffer.

Problems with eating can emerge as early as infancy in children with autism and can become more pronounced with age, the study authors found.

Researchers collected data on the eating habits of nearly 13,000 children born in southwest England in 1991-92. Children were tracked from birth, and their parents filled out questionnaires about their youngsters' eating habits.

About 80 children were later diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder, a neurodevelopmental condition that appears in the first three years of life and is characterized by impaired social interaction and communication and restricted or repetitive behavior.

Parents of children later diagnosed with autism were more likely to report their children had feeding difficulties between 15 months and 54 months old, including being "very difficult to feed," "very choosy," or eating non-food objects, a disorder called pica.

For example, parents whose children were later diagnosed with autism reported that at 6 months of age their children had later acceptance of solid foods and took longer to eat than children without the disorder.

As kids reached 15 months, about 8 percent of parents of autistic kids reported their children were "very difficult to feed," compared to about 3 percent of kids without autism.

And for kids between the ages of 4 and 5, about 26 percent of parents said their autistic children were very difficult to feed, compared to 10 percent of youngsters without the disorder.

Autistic kids were also pickier eaters. At 15 months
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