TABLE 3

Key Takeaway Messages

Epidemiology
• Gastrointestinal conditions in ASD are at least as common as in typically developing population
• It is less clear whether GI conditions are more common in children with ASD
• Individuals with ASDs should receive diagnostic evaluations and medical treatments for GI disorders just as children without ASD do
Biology
• Several studies identify abnormalities of the immune system in ASD
• Some GI conditions in ASD may have an immunologic basis
• Some individuals with ASD have abnormalities in serum concentrations of the neurotransmitter serotonin
• Alterations in serotonin may be associated with anxiety, GI symptoms, and bone density abnormalities
Nutrition
• Several studies have identified abnormalities of diet and altered bone mineral density, but the cause (dietary preference, allergic issues, or absorptive problems) remains uncertain.
Treatment
• No treatments for GI problems specific to children with ASD currently exist.
• Individuals with ASD and GI conditions appear to respond to treatment much as people with typical development do.
• Studies that can lead to management that addresses specific challenges of the disorder are still needed.