Original Paper

Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

, Volume 38, Issue 5, pp 848-856

First online:

Reduced Bone Cortical Thickness in Boys with Autism or Autism Spectrum Disorder

  • Mary L. HedigerAffiliated withDivision of Epidemiology, Statistics and Prevention Research, National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, National Institutes of Health (DESPR, NICHD, NIH), Department of Health and Human Services Email author 
  • , Lucinda J. EnglandAffiliated withDivision of Reproductive Health, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Department of Health and Human Services
  • , Cynthia A. MolloyAffiliated withCenter for Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, University of Cincinnati College of Medicine
  • , Kai F. YuAffiliated withDivision of Epidemiology, Statistics and Prevention Research, National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, National Institutes of Health (DESPR, NICHD, NIH), Department of Health and Human Services
  • , Patricia Manning-CourtneyAffiliated withThe Kelly O’Leary Center for Autism Spectrum Disorders, Division of Developmental Disabilities, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center
  • , James L. MillsAffiliated withDivision of Epidemiology, Statistics and Prevention Research, National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, National Institutes of Health (DESPR, NICHD, NIH), Department of Health and Human Services

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Abstract

Bone development, casein-free diet use, supplements, and medications were assessed for 75 boys with autism or autism spectrum disorder, ages 4–8 years. Second metacarpal bone cortical thickness (BCT), measured on hand-wrist radiographs, and % deviations in BCT from reference medians were derived. BCT increased with age, but % deviations evidenced a progressive fall-off (= .02): +3.1 ± 4.7%, −6.5 ± 4.0%, −16.6 ± 3.4%, −19.4 ± 3.7%, −24.1 ± 4.4%, at ages 4–8, respectively, adjusting for height. The 12% of the boys on casein-free diets had an overall % deviation of −18.9 ± 3.7%, nearly twice that of boys on minimally restricted or unrestricted diets (−10.5 ± 1.3%, < .04), although even for boys on minimally restricted or unrestricted diets the % deviation was highly significant (< .001). Our data suggest that the bone development of autistic boys should be monitored as part of routine care, especially if they are on casein-free diets.

Keywords

Autism Autism spectrum disorder Boys Bone growth Calcium intake Dietary intake