Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

, Volume 47, Issue 4, pp 1051–1061 | Cite as

Investigation of Autism Spectrum Disorder and Autistic Traits in an Adolescent Sample with Anorexia Nervosa

  • Valentina PostorinoEmail author
  • Lawrence Scahill
  • Lavinia De Peppo
  • Laura Maria Fatta
  • Valeria Zanna
  • Maria Chiara Castiglioni
  • Scott Gillespie
  • Stefano Vicari
  • Luigi Mazzone
Original Paper


This study aimed to examine the presence of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) in a sample of female adolescents with Anorexia Nervosa (AN) during the acute phase of illness. We also compare the level of autistic traits, social perception skills and obsessive–compulsive symptoms in four groups: AN, ASD, and two gender- and age-matched control groups. Of the 30 AN participants, only three scored above the conventional ADOS-2 threshold for ASD. The AN participants were similar to their controls on autistic trait measures, and to the ASD group on obsessive–compulsive measures, and on theory of mind ability and affect recognition measures. Further longitudinal studies are needed in order to determine the association between these conditions.


Anorexia nervosa Autism spectrum disorder Autism diagnostic observation schedule (ADOS) Acute phase of illness Developmental history 


Author Contribution

VP designed, conducted, supervised the study and wrote the manuscript, LS interpreted the data, corrected drafts, and helped in the writing process, LDP, LMF, VZ, and MCC helped in the recruitment and in the data collection process, SG performed the analysis, interpreted the data and helped with the revisions of the manuscript; SV assisted in the write up of the study; LM designed and supervised the project, and revised the draft of the manuscript.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest


Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Valentina Postorino
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Lawrence Scahill
    • 1
  • Lavinia De Peppo
    • 2
    • 3
  • Laura Maria Fatta
    • 2
    • 4
  • Valeria Zanna
    • 2
  • Maria Chiara Castiglioni
    • 2
  • Scott Gillespie
    • 1
  • Stefano Vicari
    • 2
  • Luigi Mazzone
    • 2
    • 5
  1. 1.Department of pediatricsThe Marcus Autism Center, Emory University School of MedicineAtlantaUSA
  2. 2.Child Neuropsychiatry Unit, Department of NeuroscienceI.R.C.C.S. Children’s Hospital Bambino GesùRomeItaly
  3. 3.Dipartimento di Scienze UmaneL.U.M.S.A., Libera Università Maria SS. AssuntaRomeItaly
  4. 4.Istituto Superiore di SanitàResearch Coordination and Support ServiceRomeItaly
  5. 5.Child Neurology and Psychiatry Unit, Systems Medicine DepartmentTor Vergata University of RomeRomeItaly

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