European Journal of Pediatrics

, Volume 169, Issue 10, pp 1201–1206 | Cite as

A preliminary study on nutritional status and intake in Chinese children with autism

  • Wei Xia
  • Yanjuan Zhou
  • Caihong Sun
  • Jia Wang
  • Lijie WuEmail author
Original Paper


Parents of children with autism often report gastrointestinal problems as well as picky eating and selective eating in their children. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the nutritional status and the nutrient intake in 111 Chinese children with autism, aged between 2 and 9 years. Anthropometric data were expressed as Z scores. A 3-day dietary recall was provided by the parents, and the data were compared with the national Dietary Reference Intakes (DRI) standards for Chinese children. The results showed that only nine of the autistic children (8.1%) were acute or chronically malnourished. From the remaining 102 patients, 67 (60.4%) were eutrophic and 35 (31.5%) had either overweight or obesity. Intakes of both calories and proteins were adequate in the vast majority of these children, but the calories from fat was lower than DRI in the same age group. The average intake of vitamin E and niacin exceeded 100% of DRI, and the intakes of vitamin B1 and B2, magnesium, and iron were between 80% and 90% of DRI range. However, the following nutrients did not meet the DRI requirements at all: vitamins A, B6 and C, folic acid, calcium, and zinc. Although growth was satisfactory in the vast majority of these children with autistic disorder, this study revealed serious deficiencies in the intakes of several vitamins and essential nutrients.


Autism Children growth and development Dietary survey Nutritional status Dietary reference intakes Z score 



This work was supported by grants from the National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 30771817) to Lijie Wu.

Conflict of interest

The authors state that there is no conflict of interest. The authors have no financial relationship with the organization that sponsored the research.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Wei Xia
    • 1
  • Yanjuan Zhou
    • 1
  • Caihong Sun
    • 1
  • Jia Wang
    • 1
  • Lijie Wu
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Children Development and Behavior Research CenterHarbin Medical UniversityHarbinChina

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