GI Problems Common in Children with Autism

VANCOUVER, British Columbia, May 3 (UPI) — Gastrointestinal symptoms occur in almost 50 percent of children with autism spectrum disorders, U.S. researchers found.

The study, conducted by Autism Speaks’ Autism Treatment Network, also found GI symptoms such as abdominal pain, constipation and diarrhea increased as children get older.

Dr. Daniel Coury, medical director of the ATN and of Ohio State University, and colleagues examined data from 1,185 children and found 45 percent had GI symptoms at the time of enrollment. Previous research resulted in conflicting results, Coury said.

Thirty-nine percent of children under the age of 5 reported symptoms, while 51 percent of children age 7 and older reported GI symptoms.

“These findings suggest that better evaluation of GI symptoms and subsequent treatment may have benefits for these patients,” Coury said in a statement.

“Primary care physicians and specialists should ask families about these symptoms and address these as part of the overall management plan for the child or adolescent with autism spectrum disorders.”

The findings were presented at the Pediatric Academic Societies annual meeting in Vancouver.

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