Children with autism are not at higher risk for certain digestive system problems than those without the neurodevelopmental disorder, a small study suggests.
The researchers focused on gastrointestinal disorders that previous studies suggested might be linked to autism. These include intestinal inflammation; deficiency of the digestive enzyme lactase, associated with lactose intolerance; and increased intestinal permeability, often called "leaky gut."
The results showed that the children with autism were no more likely to have these conditions than typically developing kids.
The research was published recently in the Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition.
"The results of this study suggest that common gastrointestinal problems occur in children with autism and should be evaluated," Dr. Timothy Buie, MassGeneral Hospital for Children, Boston, and colleagues wrote in a journal news release.
"There is no evidence to support that gastrointestinal disorders cause autism," they added.