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In Autism: The Importance of the Gut

The Atlantic spotlights autism-GI connection; features Autism Speaks Autism Treatment Network researchers and doctors
June 11, 2013



This month’s The Atlantic magazine features an in-depth look at our growing understanding of the biological links between autism, GI disorders and behavioral problems. The story shines a spotlight on Autism Speaks-funded research and profiles medical specialists within Autism Speaks Autism Treatment Network (AS-ATN). They include doctors at New York’s Columbia University Medical Center, Ohio’s Nationwide Children’s Hospital, Tennessee’s Vanderbilt Kennedy Center and MassGeneral Hospital, Boston.

Last year, AS-ATN clinicians published the first treatment guidelines for managing GI disorders in children with autism. This work is made possible by the AS-ATN’s role as the federally funded Autism Intervention Research Network on Physical Health (AIR-P).

"Many doctors don't recognize that aggressive behavior is not part of autism," Columbia pediatric gastroenterologist Kara Margolis comments in The Atlantic story. Dr. Margolis described how addressing GI distress often brings an end to such behavior.

Dr. Margolis and her colleagues at Columbia collaborated with clinicians at MassGeneral to study GI disorders and their link with problematic behaviors in children as autism. The study was supported by Autism Speaks. The preliminary results suggest that the link is common but not universal among those with autism and GI issues. She urges doctors and therapists to consider GI distress when problem behaviors arise abruptly in a child with autism.

We think you’ll enjoy The Atlantic article. For more information about and by the research and clinicians mentioned in the story, see the following pages here on the Autism Speaks website:

News and Resources
* Autism and GI Disorders
* How helpful is the casein-gluten-free diet?
* GI Symptoms in Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD): An Autism Treatment Network Study
* Complementary & Alternative Approaches for Autism
* Pediatrics Supplement on Autism and Other Neurodevelopmental Disorders
* Videoblog: Discussing GI Issues at the AS-ATN National Conference
* Guidance on Probiotics
* GI Problems and Supplements

Autism Speaks-funded studies:
* Identifying Gastrointestinal (GI) Conditions in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD)
* Defining the Underlying Biology of Gastrointestinal Dysfunction in Autism
* Molecular analysis of gene-environment interactions in the intestines of children with autism
* Prevalence and patterns of medical co-morbidity and healthcare use before ASD diagnoses in children