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Children with autism at significant risk for feeding problems and nutritional deficits
Date:2/4/2013

uently express concern regarding how few foods make up their child's diet, the systematic review and meta-analysis led by Sharp and colleagues represents the first attempt to combine outcomes from studies providing empirical evidence about levels of feeding problems and nutrient intake in children with autism compared with peers.

"Despite the risk of long-term medical issues, as well as frequent caregiver concern regarding the quality of their child's diet, feeding problems are often overlooked in relation to other areas of clinical and research concern in the autism population," says Sharp.

"Our findings have immediate and important implications for the work of practitioners serving children and families with autism, who in the absence of such information, may struggle to address parents' concerns, or, worse, may fill the void with alternative treatments that may be ill-conceived or even harmful to children and families."

One important example is the highly prevalent adoption of elimination diets as a form of treatment for autism, which, the data appear to suggest, could further exacerbate the nutritional risks for children with autism. With this in mind, Sharp and colleagues used this information to develop autism-specific recommendations to guide future clinical and research activities in this area.

These recommendations included screening for feeding concerns and nutritional deficits/excesses in addition to measurement of gross anthropometric parameters as part of routine medical evaluations for children with ASD. They also suggest healthcare providers review the potential consequences of pursuing an elimination diet with consideration of the child's unique feeding and nutritional presentation.

"This study is the first of its kind to quantify the impact of feeding disorders in the autism population," says Sharp. "We hope that our work helps guide clinical practice, as well as provides a roadmap for future research
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Contact: Holly Korschun
hkorsch@emory.edu
404-727-7709
Emory University
Source:Eurekalert

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