Despite controversial media reports to the contrary, autism may not be linked to a child's diet, according to a Mayo Clinic study that compared the incidence of gastrointestinal problems of some 240 healthy children to those of about 120 autistic kids over an 18-year period.
Although young autistic patients had more problems with constipation and were far pickier eaters (making it difficult to gain weight) than healthy kids, scientists discovered no difference between both groups in the number of gastrointestinal issues: Seventy-two percent of healthy kids and 77 percent of autistic children experienced at least one compliant over the course of the study.
More autistic children were affected by their picky eating habits and constipation than the healthy control group, but only a handful of them suffered from Chron's disease, lactose intolerance, milk allergies or intestinal disaccharidase (enzyme) deficiencies.
One variable researchers suspect that may have affected the nutritional health of autistic children in the study: About half of the autistic patients monitored were taking a stimulant medication.
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