Study Finds Diet Not Connected to GI Problems in Children With Autism

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Bradley James Ferguson, PhD University of Missouri School of Medicine

Dr. Ferguson

Bradley James Ferguson, PhD
University of Missouri School of Medicine 

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Many individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) have gastrointestinal problems, such as constipation, irritable bowel syndrome and abdominal pain, but the cause of these GI issues is not currently known. Previous research from our laboratory showed a significant positive relationship between cortisol levels and GI problems, especially for constipation. However, it is possible that other factors such as diet may affect GI functioning, especially since many children have altered diets. This study examined 32 different nutrients in the children’s diets, as assessed by a food frequency questionnaire that assessed the participant’s diet over the past month, and how each nutrient was related to upper and lower GI tract symptom scores over the past month created from the Questionnaire on Pediatric Gastrointestinal Symptoms – Rome III. The results showed no significant relationships between any of the nutrients and GI symptoms, suggesting that diet was not associated with GI symptoms in this sample.

MedicalResearch.com: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?

Response: Diet is not likely contributing to GI symptoms experienced by many individuals with autism spectrum disorder, and other factors may be responsible for the GI issues in this population, specifically an increased stress response. However, more research needs to be conducted to determine the driving factor behind GI issues in ASD.

MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Response: Given the number of people with autism spectrum disorder that have co-occurring GI disorders, future research should examine the effects of stress reduction on GI symptoms in this population. 

MedicalResearch.com: Is there anything else you would like to add?

Response: The study, “Associations between Dietary Composition and Gastrointestinal Symptoms in Autism Spectrum Disorder,” recently was presented at the 2017 International Meeting for Autism Research. Research reported in this study was supported by the Autism Speaks Autism Treatment Network/Autism Intervention Research Network on Physical Health, the Health Resources and Services Administration of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and an MU School of Medicine Summer Research Fellowship. The researchers have no conflicts of interest to declare related to this study. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the funding agencies.

In addition to Ferguson, the research team includes principal investigator David Beversdorf and Micah Mazurek with the MU Thompson Center for Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disorders; Danielle Severns with the MU School of Medicine; Sarah Marler and Evon Batey Lee with Vanderbilt University; Margaret Bauman with Boston University; and Kara Margolis and Jeremy Veenstra-VanderWeele with Columbia University. 

MedicalResearch.com: Thank you for your contribution to the MedicalResearch.com community.

Citation: Abstract presented at the:

2017 International Meeting for Autism Research:

In addition to Ferguson, the research team includes principal investigator David Beversdorf and Micah Mazurek with the MU Thompson Center for Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disorders; Danielle Severns with the MU School of Medicine; Sarah Marler and Evon Batey Lee with Vanderbilt University; Margaret Bauman with Boston University; and Kara Margolis and Jeremy Veenstra-VanderWeele with Columbia University.

Note: Content is Not intended as medical advice. Please consult your health care provider regarding your specific medical condition and questions.

 

 

 

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