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New Pediatrics Report Urges Medical Community to Address Underlying Pathologies in Patients With Autism

Posted Jan 04 2010 12:00am

/PRNewswire/ -- An article published today in the journal Pediatrics confirms what parents and advocacy organizations have been saying for years: many individuals with autism suffer from gastrointestinal disease that can contribute to behaviors and symptoms associated with autism.

Evaluation, Diagnosis, and Treatment of Gastrointestinal Disorders in Individuals With ASDs: A Consensus Report is the result of expert panel study and discussion led by Dr. Timothy Buie of the Harvard Medical School Department of Pediatrics. The panel's findings point out not only the existence of underlying GI disturbances that can manifest as behavioral problems, but also notes that such medical issues have often gone undiagnosed or been ignored in the past by physicians treating patients diagnosed with autism.

"We are finally getting mainstream acknowledgement that our kids are physically sick, and not the victims of some mysterious genetic behavioral disorder," commented Lori McIlwain, National Autism Association (NAA) board chair. "With one in 110 children now diagnosed with autism, we are in the midst of a national health emergency. Physicians must address the underlying medical conditions involved in this epidemic if they are to help us find answers and relief for our children."

The panel arrived at several conclusions regarding current clinical practice guidelines and made recommendations for future medical and research priorities. These include:

-- Current treatment guidelines do not routinely consider potential
medical problems
-- Problem behaviors including self-injury, aggression, irritability,
and sleep disturbance may be manifestations of abdominal pain
-- Behavioral treatment should not substitute for medical treatment
-- Gastrointestinal symptoms should be considered an urgent indication
for medical investigation
-- Immunologic dysfunction, inflammation, metabolic dysfunction, and
allergies are all potentially associated with autism
-- Research is needed to determine the role of abnormal GI permeability
in neuropsychiatric manifestations of autism
-- Greater awareness is needed among health care providers of the
atypical manifestations of GI disorders
-- Awareness of unrecognized medical conditions in autism must become a
priority of professional societies including the American Academy of
Pediatrics
-- Diagnostics should be performed to accurately identify co-morbid
allergic disease
-- Research is needed to determine the role of immune dysfunction in
autism


"This is definitely a step in the right direction," said Ms. McIlwain. "Our kids need and deserve clinical investigation and treatment for the underlying medical conditions from which they suffer."

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