Friday, September 25, 2009
Clinic Notes: Autism and Gastrointestinal (GI) Disease
Some parents, autism researchers and clinicians think that autism is caused by GI disease, hence the gluten and casein free diets, and various vitamins and supplements that are given to children with autism. So is there a link between autism and GI disease? A recent large scale Mayo Clinic study has some interesting findings. Most of the children diagnosed with autism and the control subjects had received their care at the Mayo Clinic and detailed information was available for the study. The most interesting finding was that the children with autism did not differ from the control group in the frequency of GI disease. Two symptoms--feeding difficulties and constipation were found more often in the autism group. The researchers note that these two symptoms are probably related to autistic behavior--restrictive diets--lack of fiber, rather than a GI disease. Neither group had celiac disease, which is intolerance to gluten. The authors of the study conclude that GI disease should be treated when it is diagnosed independently from autism. But treating autism without verification of GI disease is not warranted.