Brief Report

Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

, Volume 42, Issue 7, pp 1520-1525

First online:

Brief Report: Association Between Behavioral Features and Gastrointestinal Problems Among Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder

  • Matthew J. MaennerAffiliated withWaisman Center and Department of Population Health Sciences, University of Wisconsin-Madison Email author 
  • , Carrie L. ArnesonAffiliated withWaisman Center, University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • , Susan E. LevyAffiliated withChildren’s Hosptial of Philadelphia
  • , Russell S. KirbyAffiliated withDepartment of Community and Family Health, College of Public Health, University of South Florida
  • , Joyce S. NicholasAffiliated withMedical University of South Carolina
  • , Maureen S. DurkinAffiliated withWaisman Center and Departments of Pediatrics and Population Health Sciences, University of Wisconsin-Madison

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Recent reports suggest certain behaviors among children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) may indicate underlying gastro-intestinal (GI) problems, and that the presence of these behaviors may help alert primary care providers to the need to evaluate a child with ASD for GI problems. The purpose of this population-based study of 487 children with ASD, including 35 (7.2%) with a medically documented history of GI problems, was to compare behavioral features of children with and without a history of GI problems. Unusual sleeping or eating habits and oppositional behavior were significantly associated with GI problems. These behaviors, however, were frequent in both children with and without GI problems, suggesting they may have limited utility in a screening capacity for GI problems.


Autism spectrum disorder Gastrointestinal