Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Children who have autism far more likely to have tummy troubles

Date:
November 6, 2013
Source:
University of California - Davis Health System
Summary:
Children with autism experience gastrointestinal upsets such as constipation, diarrhea and sensitivity to foods six-to-eight times more often than do children who are developing typically, and those symptoms are related to behavioral problems, including social withdrawal, irritability and repetitive behaviors.

Children with autism experience gastrointestinal (GI) upsets such as constipation, diarrhea and sensitivity to foods six-to-eight times more often than do children who are developing typically, and those symptoms are related to behavioral problems, including social withdrawal, irritability and repetitive behaviors, a new study by researchers at the UC Davis MIND Institute has found.

The researchers said that understanding the impact of GI problems in children with autism could provide new insight into more effective and appropriate autism treatments that could decrease their GI difficulties and that may have the potential to decrease their problem behaviors as well.

The investigation is the largest and the most ethnically diverse study comparing GI problems in children with autism, developmental delay and typical development, and among the first to examine the relationship between GI symptoms and problem behaviors in children with autism, the researchers said.

"Gastrointestinal Problems in Children with Autism, Developmental Delays or Typical Development" is published online today in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders.

"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," said Virginia Chaidez, the lead study author who was a postdoctoral student in the UC Davis Department of Public Health Sciences at the time of the study.

"The GI problems they experience may be bidirectional," Chaidez said. "GI problems may create behavior problems, and those behavior 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 behaviors."

The study was conducted in nearly 1,000 children enrolled in the Childhood Autism Risks from Genetics and the Environment (CHARGE) Study in Northern California between April 2003 and May 2011. The children were between 24 and 60 months at the time when they were enrolled in the study. Their diagnoses were confirmed through assessments at the MIND Institute. Roughly half of the study population was white and one-third was Hispanic. The remaining participants were of other ethnic and racial backgrounds.

The study was conducted by asking the children's parents to complete two self-administered questionnaires, the CHARGE Gastrointestinal History Questionnaire (GIH) and the Aberrant Behavior Checklist (ABC). The GIH measures such disorders as abdominal pain, diarrhea, constipation and difficulty swallowing. The ABC measures challenging behaviors including irritability, lethargy/social withdrawal, repetitive behaviors (stereotypies), hyperactivity and inappropriate speech.

The researchers found that the parents of children with autism were six-to-eight times more likely to report frequent gaseousness/bloating, constipation, diarrhea and sensitivity to foods than were the parents of typically developing children. Similarly, parents of children with developmental delay were five times more likely to report constipation and far more likely to report difficulty swallowing.

Children with Autism, Developmental Delay and GI Problems

"After years of parents raising concerns about such symptoms, the huge differences we see between parental reports on children with autism spectrum disorder versus those on children with typical development puts to rest the idea that gastrointestinal problems among children with autism spectrum disorder are just an accumulation of case reports," said Irva Hertz-Picciotto, principal investigator for the CHARGE Study and a researcher affiliated with the MIND Institute. "Our data clearly show that gastrointestinal problems are very common in children with autism."

Among parents of children with autism, those who reported their child had abdominal pain, gaseousness/bloating, constipation and diarrhea also significantly more frequently noted irritability, social withdrawal, repetitive behavior and hyperactivity than did those without GI symptoms. The only behavior problem that was associated with a GI problem in children with developmental delay was hyperactivity and only among those children with diarrhea.

The researchers said that the study suggests that a chronic GI symptom, which can cause pain, discomfort and anxiety, could contribute to increased irritability and social withdrawal, particularly in children with deficits in social and communication skills. For children with autism, hyperactivity and repetitive behaviors may represent coping mechanisms for physical discomfort.

In children with autism who have problem behaviors a full GI evaluation could be beneficial, especially in children who are non-verbal. For this population, appropriate medical treatment may alleviate undiagnosed GI problems, and it is possible that there also could be some improvement in problem behaviors, the researchers said.

The researchers did not address the reasons why the children with autism and developmental delay experienced more GI difficulties in this study. They noted that their findings suggest that the subject warrants additional inquiry.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of California - Davis Health System. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Virginia Chaidez, Robin L. Hansen, Irva Hertz-Picciotto. Gastrointestinal Problems in Children with Autism, Developmental Delays or Typical Development. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 2013; DOI: 10.1007/s10803-013-1973-x

Cite This Page:

University of California - Davis Health System. "Children who have autism far more likely to have tummy troubles." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 6 November 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/11/131106202237.htm>.
University of California - Davis Health System. (2013, November 6). Children who have autism far more likely to have tummy troubles. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/11/131106202237.htm
University of California - Davis Health System. "Children who have autism far more likely to have tummy troubles." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/11/131106202237.htm (accessed July 23, 2014).

Share This




More Mind & Brain News

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Idaho Boy Helps Brother With Disabilities Complete Triathlon

Idaho Boy Helps Brother With Disabilities Complete Triathlon

Newsy (July 23, 2014) An 8-year-old boy helped his younger brother, who has a rare genetic condition that's confined him to a wheelchair, finish a triathlon. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Huge Schizophrenia Study Finds Dozens Of New Genetic Causes

Huge Schizophrenia Study Finds Dozens Of New Genetic Causes

Newsy (July 22, 2014) The 83 new genetic markers could open dozens of new avenues for schizophrenia treatment research. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Why Do People Believe We Only Use 10 Percent Of Our Brains?

Why Do People Believe We Only Use 10 Percent Of Our Brains?

Newsy (July 22, 2014) The new sci-fi thriller "Lucy" is making people question whether we really use all our brainpower. But, as scientists have insisted for years, we do. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Do Obese Women Have 'Food Learning Impairment'?

Do Obese Women Have 'Food Learning Impairment'?

Newsy (July 18, 2014) Yale researchers tested 135 men and women, and it was only obese women who were deemed to have "impaired associative learning." 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