According to UK researchers report, children with autistic spectrum disorder (ASD) do not have bowel symptoms consistent with underlying gastrointestinal pathology.
There is no evidence, senior investigator Dr. Alan Emond told, that children with ASD have an enterocolitis associated with onset of autistic symptoms. The bowel habits of young children with ASD, in general, are no different from the rest of population.
The findings were from the cohort study of health and development in children conducted by Dr. Emond of the Centre for Child and Adolescent Health, Bristol, and colleagues.
In all, 78 children with ASD were compared with a control group of 12,906 cohorts in whom information on stool patterns and bowel symptoms was available. The researchers collected data prospectively before ASD was diagnosed.
Over the follow up of first 3.5 years of life, there were no significant difference between the groups in factors such as stool color, consistency, the frequency of diarrhea or constipation, and of abdominal pain.
The ASD group was passing more stools at 30 and 42 months. However, out of which only 3 children passed more than 4 stools per day.
Thus, the investigators conclude that children with ASD do not have symptoms suggestive of underlying enterocolitis.
Some differences in stool frequency, they add, start to appear at 30 months and may be a secondary phenomenon related to differences in diet.
Nevertheless, Dr. Emond noted that some older children with ASD do have bowel symptoms. It is not clear whether these symptoms are due to dietary changes or abnormalities in intestinal function associated with autism. Further research is needed.