Thursday, 24 April 2014

As if you needed telling...

"GI [gastrointestinal] dysfunction was prevalent in this cohort of children with ASD [autism spectrum disorders], observations consistent with the reports of parents and other clinicians". That was one of the conclusions reached by Victor Kang and colleagues [1] in their study looking at GI issues in cases of autism.

Of course we've been here before... many times in fact, as autism research delivers more evidence that bowel issues are quite frequently over-represented in cases of autism (see here and see here and see here). That the authors also conclude: "GI dysfunction in ASD requires proper evaluation and treatment" is the next stage in the evolution of this research area despite the fact that recommendations already exist [2] and onwards the question of whether treating said bowel issues might impact on presented core or peripheral signs and symptoms of autism. At the very least, whether dealing with bowel issues improves quality of life.

There's really no need for me to say too much more about the Kang results outside of one particular point when it came to the results of the "endoscopic and colonoscopic evaluations" carried out on a small percentage of study participants involved in this work. To quote: "Inflammation of the gut was found in 6 of the 12 subjects" meaning that 50% of those examined carried some potential issue with the GI tract. Of course this is not the first time that such findings have been reported (see here and see here) and I very much doubt it will be the last either. I'm drawn back to the Stephen Walker findings (see here) as one example of where autism research might want to continue to venture when it comes to inflammatory bowel disease (if that's what I can call it) and autism, but will say little more than that at this time.

And finally, I know that endoscopic evaluations are hardly desirable for anyone, which is why we should also be investing quite a bit more research into alternatives such as the wireless capsule endoscopy which has already seen some use in the area of autism research [3].


Update: 28/04/14. And like waiting for buses, they all come along at once as per the meta-analysis of GI issues in autism research by Barbara McElhanon and colleagues [4] (open-access here) concluding a: "greater prevalence of GI symptoms among children with ASD compared with control children". Need I say more?


[1] Kang V. et al. Gastrointestinal Dysfunction in Children With Autism Spectrum Disorders. Autism Res. 2014 Apr 21. doi: 10.1002/aur.1386.

[2] Buie T. et al. Recommendations for evaluation and treatment of common gastrointestinal problems in children with ASDs. Pediatrics. 2010 Jan;125 Suppl 1:S19-29.

[3] Balzola F. et al. Panenteric IBD-like disease in a patient with regressive autism shown for the first time by the wireless capsule enteroscopy: another piece in the jigsaw of this gut-brain syndrome? Am J Gastroenterol. 2005 Apr;100(4):979-81.

[4] McElhanon BO. et al. Gastrointestinal Symptoms in Autism Spectrum Disorder: A Meta-analysis. Pediatrics. 2014. April 28.

---------- Kang V, Wagner GC, & Ming X (2014). Gastrointestinal Dysfunction in Children With Autism Spectrum Disorders. Autism research : official journal of the International Society for Autism Research PMID: 24753336