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Gastrointestinal Problems in Children with Autism, Developmental Delays or Typical Development

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To compare gastrointestinal (GI) problems among children with: (1) autism spectrum disorder (ASD), (2) developmental delay (DD) and (3) typical development (TD), GI symptom frequencies were obtained for 960 children from the CHildhood Autism Risks from Genetics and Environment (CHARGE) study. We also examined scores on five Aberrant Behavior Checklist (ABC) subscales comparing ASD children with high versus low frequency GI symptoms. Compared to TD children, those with ASD [aOR 7.92 (4.89–12.85)] and DD [aOR 4.55 (2.51–8.24)] were more likely to have at least one frequent GI symptom. Restricting to ASD children, those with frequent abdominal pain, gaseousness, diarrhea, constipation or pain on stooling scored worse on irritability, social withdrawal, stereotypy, and hyperactivity compared with children having no frequent GI symptoms. Frequent GI problems affect young children with ASD and DD more commonly than those with TD. Maladaptive behaviors correlate with GI problems, suggesting these comorbidities require attention.

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The authors would like to thank Bill Elms and Lora Delwiche for their guidance and support with data management, Melissa Rose and the CHARGE research team. And a special thanks to all the families who took part in this research. There are no conflicts of interest to declare by any of the authors. Sponsors of this research included: National Institutes of Health, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences; Grant numbers: 1 P01 ES11269, 2 P01 ES11269, 1 R01 ES015359, and 3 R01 ES015359-03S2; the US Environmental Protection Agency through the Science to Achieve Results (STAR) program; Grant number: R833292 and R829388; the Medical Investigations of Neurodevelopmental Disorders (M.I.N.D.) Institute; Grant Number: N/A; Autism Speaks; Grant Number: AS 7567.

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Correspondence to Virginia Chaidez.

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Chaidez, V., Hansen, R.L. & Hertz-Picciotto, I. Gastrointestinal Problems in Children with Autism, Developmental Delays or Typical Development. J Autism Dev Disord 44, 1117–1127 (2014).

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