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A New Test May Help Detect Hidden GI Issues In Kids With Autism

When you have a child that has developmental or intellectual delays, communication is often a hurdle. And when you can't communicate with your child, a host of other issues will come up. Mainly, if there is something wrong with them, they may not always be able to tell you. And if you don't know what to look out for, then you will not be able to get them the help that they need. This is especially true with medical issues, because more often than not, they are not glaringly obvious. If you have a child with autism, they may not be able to tell you if they have a stomachache. But there is a new test that could make diagnosing GI tract issues in children with autism.

Gastrointestinal issues are actually fairly common in children with autism. In fact, they are four times more common in children with autism than in children without. But, because of things like communication barriers, they may not always be diagnosed in a timely manner. These issues can present themselves in other ways, like anger and aggression. So, children may be being treated for behavioral or psychiatric issues, but the issues are actually medical.

“Gastrointestinal problems can be painful and disabling and they can have profound effects on a child’s behavior," said Kara Gross Margolis, MD, associate professor of pediatrics at Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons, and one of the researchers on the study.

This 17 item questionnaire, which was developed by pediatric gastroenterologists and psychiatrists, was based on a study conducted in several medical centers and hospitals. Parents of children with autism were given 35 questions to assess their children with. These were based on the three most common GI issues: constipation, diarrhea, and reflux disease. After receiving the data, the researchers sent it to pediatric gastroenterologists to evaluate. Once they got the information back, researchers were able to choose the 17 items most likely to identify the most common GI problems. The 17 items were able to identify GI issues in 84 percent of the children evaluated.

While this was a small study, it was a large breakthrough in how these issues are handled. It has provided the researchers and doctors with a roadmap to hopefully having a more concrete way of diagnosing gastrointestinal issues in children with autism. Hopefully this leads to more children with autism and GI issues to finding relief.

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