Gastrointestinal dysfunction in children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is common and associated with problem behaviors. This study describes the development of a brief, parent-report screen that relies minimally upon the child’s ability to report or localize pain for identifying children with ASD at risk for one of three common gastrointestinal disorders (functional constipation, functional diarrhea, and gastroesophageal reflux disease). In a clinical sample of children with ASD, this 17-item screen identified children having one or more of these disorders with a sensitivity of 84%, specificity of 43%, and a positive predictive value of 67%. If found to be valid in an independent sample of children with ASD, the screen will be useful in both clinical practice and research.
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This network activity was supported by Autism Speaks and cooperative agreement UA3 MC11054 through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration, Maternal and Child Health Research Program to the Massachusetts General Hospital. This work was conducted through the Autism Speaks Autism Treatment Network. Further funding for this project came from philanthropic support: to Massachusetts General Hospital from Martin Schlaff and James Brooks; to Columbia University Medical Center and New York State Psychiatric Institute from the MJS Foundation for the Whitaker Developmental Neuropsychiatry Scholar Program; to Kara Margolis from NIH DK093786, DoD PR160365 and the Phyllis and Ivan Seidenberg Family Fund for Children’s Digestive Health,. The views expressed in this publication do not necessarily reflect the views of Autism Speaks, Inc. or the other sponsors. We appreciate the administrative assistance of Avi Masih, M.H.A. at MassGeneral Hospital for Children and the research assistance of Abigail Batchelder, M.P.H. and Erin King, MA while at Columbia University Medical Center.
This study was funded by The Massachusetts General Hospital and Columbia University Medical Center.
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
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 was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.
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Margolis, K.G., Buie, T.M., Turner, J.B. et al. Development of a Brief Parent-Report Screen for Common Gastrointestinal Disorders in Autism Spectrum Disorder. J Autism Dev Disord 49, 349–362 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10803-018-3767-7