Autistic Children Over Twice as Likely to Have Had Early Gastrointestinal Problems


Columbia University researchers found that children with autism were over two-and-a-half times more likely to have had “persistent gastrointestinal symptoms” when they were infants and toddlers than children who had developed more typically, according to a study in JAMA Psychiatry.

The study was based on information from the Norwegian Mother and Child Cohort Study, which enrolled 95,278 mothers, 75,248 fathers, and 114, 516 children over ten years. They identified 195 children with autism, and found that these children were “at significantly increased odds of maternally reported constipation” and for food allergy/intolerance between the ages of six to eighteen months. These and other gastrointestinal problems seemed to continue at relatively higher rates up to three years of age in the autism group.

The journal Microbial Ecology in Health and Disease also recently dedicated a special issue to research into autism and gastrointestinal microbiota. According to a press release, one paper is the personal story of a father: “(W)hen his young son’s autism unexpectedly and dramatically improved while taking an antibiotic for strep throat, he began a quest to understand why.”

Bresnahan M, Hornig M, Schultz AF, et al. Association of Maternal Report of Infant and Toddler Gastrointestinal Symptoms With Autism: Evidence From a Prospective Birth Cohort. JAMA Psychiatry. Published online March 25, 2015. doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2014.3034. (Abstract)

RODAKIS, John. An n=1 case report of a child with autism improving on antibiotics and a father’s quest to understand what it may mean. Microbial Ecology in Health and Disease, [S.l.], v. 26, mar. 2015. ISSN 1651-2235. Available at: . Date accessed: 01 Apr. 2015. doi: (Full text)

Autistic children more likely to have GI issues in early life (Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health press release on MedicalXpress, March 25, 2015)

Child with autism improves with antibiotic; prompts new investigations into autism (Autism Research Foundation press release on MedicalXpress, March 24, 2015)