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Study confirms increased prevalence of GI symptoms among children with autism
Date:4/29/2014

I problem in autism may be the emergence or escalation of problem behaviors, such as self-injury, aggression, or irritability, that cannot be otherwise explained," says co-author Barbara McElhanon, MD, pediatric gastroenterologist at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta and assistant professor of pediatrics at Emory University School of Medicine. "Relying on these atypical signs to detect possible GI concerns can be difficult for practitioners because repetitive and stereotyped patterns of behavior occur so frequently in ASD and no guidelines exist to help parents and clinicians navigate the diagnostic process."

For this reason, McElhanon and her colleagues emphasize the need to develop a standardized screening instrument as well as clinical guidelines for conducting GI examinations among children with ASD, particularly non-verbal children. More detailed, standardized screening procedures would enhance detection, while also increasing awareness in the ASD community regarding what to look for among children suspected of possible GI disorders.

"The important point from this research is that children with autismwho have difficulties in communicating their symptomsneed special attention from physicians to determine whether or not a child is experiencing GI distress" says Sharp. "Unfortunately for parents, the unfounded assertion that vaccinations somehow caused an inflammatory GI disease which then caused autism has significantly hindered progress in this field for years. Many studies have now shown no evidence of an association with vaccines, and vaccines are important for child health. That controversy diverted attention from the GI needs of children with ASD, and we hope that our work helps spur renewed investment for addressing these needs."

In addition to more standardized assessment, the authors recommend studying GI symptoms in ASD with consideration to the high rates of feeding problems and related dietary issues, such as food selectivity,
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Contact: Holly Korschun
hkorsch@emory.edu
404-727-3990
Emory Health Sciences
Source:Eurekalert

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