Strong Link Between Autism and Gastrointestinal Disorders


According to a recent study published in the Pediatrics journal, gastrointestinal (GI) disorders are four times more common among children with Autism. This study, which reviewed medical research over recent years, found that children with Autism are much more likely than their peers to have digestive difficulties.

Although the cause-and-effect has not yet been established, the link is so strong that researchers are focused on completing further investigations. Dr. William Sharp, behavioral pediatric psychologist at the Emory University School of Medicine stated, “This is something that is a prominent concern for kids with autism, and we should refocus our scientific endeavors to get an evidence-based approach for assessment and treatment of these kids”.

Dr. Sharp and his colleagues narrowed their search to medical studies that included a “control” group, which consisted of typically developing peers, or siblings of children with Autism. Out of 961 studies on the topic, only 15 contained a control group. Additionally, several studies relied on reports from parents to document stomach issues. After smoothing out the issues, researchers were still able to identify high rates of gastrointestinal issues in the children diagnosed with an Autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

Although doctors do not yet know why children with Autism are more prone to digestion issues, but they have reason to believe it may be behavioral. Studies have suggested that babies who go on to develop Autism don’t breast-feed well, and breast milk is extremely beneficial in the development and protection of an individual’s intestinal tract. Additionally, children with Autism can be very picky eaters, as they have sensitivities to certain textures, colors, or smells. Many children with ASD have seen behavioral benefits from following particular diets, such as following a gluten-free regime. Until more research is done, it is recommended by doctors to bring digestive issues to the pediatrician or dietitian’s attention.

The ICare4Autism International Conference will be discussing additional medical research studies, as well as biomedical perspectives in NYC on July 1st. Several medical professionals will be giving presentations, including Dr. Alisa Woods, Research Assistant Professor, Department of Chemistry and Bimolecular Science at Clarkson University. Dr. Woods, who is also a member of the ICare4Autism Advisory Council, will be giving a speech on significant biomarkers in Autism disorders. To hear Dr. Woods speak, please select tickets here.

Although Autism Awareness Month is coming to a close, we will continue to share medical advances, recent research, and stories of hope, throughout the year. We hope that you will continue to share these stories, and spread awareness about Autism! Please make a difference and donate today!

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