Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Children with autism at significant risk for feeding problems and nutritional deficits

Date:
February 4, 2013
Source:
Emory University
Summary:
A comprehensive analysis of feeding behavior in children with autism spectrum disorders indicates these children are five times more likely to have a feeding problem, including extreme tantrums during meals, severe food selectivity and ritualistic mealtime behaviors. Examination of dietary nutrients showed significantly lower intake of calcium and protein and a higher number of nutritional deficits overall among children with autism.

Healthy eating not only promotes growth and development, but also provides important opportunities for children to socialize during meals. A new, comprehensive analysis of feeding behavior in children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) indicates that these children are five times more likely to have a feeding problem, including extreme tantrums during meals, severe food selectivity and ritualistic mealtime behaviors.

Researchers at Marcus Autism Center and the Department of Pediatrics at Emory University School of Medicine conducted a comprehensive meta-analysis of all published, peer-reviewed research relating to feeding problems and autism. Examination of dietary nutrients showed significantly lower intake of calcium and protein and a higher number of nutritional deficits overall among children with autism.

The results are reported in the Feb. 1, 2013, online early edition of the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders.

"The results of this study have broad implications for children with autism," says William Sharp, PhD, a behavioral pediatric psychologist in the Pediatric Feeding Disorders Program at Marcus Autism Center and assistant professor at Emory University School of Medicine. "It not only highlights the importance of assessing mealtime concerns as part of routine health care screenings, but also suggests the need for greater focus on diet and nutrition in the autism community."

Chronic feeding problems increase a child's risk for poor medical and developmental outcomes, including malnutrition, growth retardation, social deficits and poor academic achievement. Emerging evidence suggests the feeding problems and dietary patterns associated with autism may place this population at risk for long-term medical complications, including poor bone growth, obesity and other diet-related diseases (e.g., cardiovascular disease) in adolescence or adulthood.

While parents of children with autism frequently 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 in this area."

Now that the magnitude of the feeding disorders in the autism population has been defined, Marcus Autism Center is now using these findings to expand the research program for children with autism and feeding disorders seen through its Pediatric Feeding Disorders Program.

Future areas of research include the more detailed analysis of the health burden associated with atypical dietary patterns, such as prevalence of obesity and obesity related disorders, as well as determining the social implications and family stress associated with chronic feeding problems in this population.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Emory University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. William G. Sharp, Rashelle C. Berry, Courtney McCracken, Nadrat N. Nuhu, Elizabeth Marvel, Celine A. Saulnier, Ami Klin, Warren Jones, David L. Jaquess. Feeding Problems and Nutrient Intake in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders: A Meta-analysis and Comprehensive Review of the Literature. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 2013; DOI: 10.1007/s10803-013-1771-5

Cite This Page:

Emory University. "Children with autism at significant risk for feeding problems and nutritional deficits." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 4 February 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/02/130204184625.htm>.
Emory University. (2013, February 4). Children with autism at significant risk for feeding problems and nutritional deficits. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 18, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/02/130204184625.htm
Emory University. "Children with autism at significant risk for feeding problems and nutritional deficits." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/02/130204184625.htm (accessed April 18, 2014).

Share This



More Mind & Brain News

Friday, April 18, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Study On Artists' Brain Shows They're 'Structurally Unique'

Study On Artists' Brain Shows They're 'Structurally Unique'

Newsy (Apr. 17, 2014) The brains of artists aren't really left-brain or right-brain, but rather have extra neural matter in visual and motor control areas. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Is Apathy A Sign Of A Shrinking Brain?

Is Apathy A Sign Of A Shrinking Brain?

Newsy (Apr. 17, 2014) A recent study links apathetic feelings to a smaller brain. Researchers say the results indicate a need for apathy screening for at-risk seniors. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Are School Dress Codes Too Strict?

Are School Dress Codes Too Strict?

AP (Apr. 16, 2014) Pushing the limits on style and self-expression is a rite of passage for teens and even younger kids. How far should schools go with their dress codes? The courts have sided with schools in an era when school safety is paramount. (April 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Even Casual Marijuana Use Alter Your Brain?

Could Even Casual Marijuana Use Alter Your Brain?

Newsy (Apr. 16, 2014) A new study conducted by researchers at Northwestern and Harvard suggests even casual marijuana use can alter your brain. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins