Current Gastroenterology Reports

, Volume 4, Issue 3, pp 251–258

Autism and gastrointestinal symptoms

  • Karoly Horvath
  • Jay A. Perman
Article

Abstract

Autism is a collection of behavioral symptoms characterized by dysfunction in social interaction and communication in affected children. It is typically associated with restrictive, repetitive, and stereotypic behavior and manifests within the first 3 years of life. The cause of this disorder is not known. Over the past decade, a significant upswing in research has occurred to examine the biologic basis of autism. Recent clinical studies have revealed a high prevalence of gastrointestinal symptoms, inflammation, and dysfunction in children with autism. Mild to moderate degrees of inflammation were found in both the upper and lower intestinal tract. In addition, decreased sulfation capacity of the liver, pathologic intestinal permeability, increased secretory response to intravenous secretin injection, and decreased digestive enzyme activities were reported in many children with autism. Treatment of digestive problems appears to have positive effects on autistic behavior. These new observations represent only a piece of the unsolved autism "puzzle" and should stimulate more research into the brain-gut connection.

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Copyright information

© Current Science Inc 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • Karoly Horvath
    • 1
  • Jay A. Perman
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PediatricsUniversity of Maryland School of MedicineBaltimoreUSA

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