-- Robert Preidt
SATURDAY, Feb. 9 (HealthDay News) -- Children with autism are
five times more likely than other kids to have feeding issues, such
as being especially picky eaters or having ritualistic behaviors or
extreme tantrums during meals, new research finds.
These problems can lead to deficiencies in calcium, protein and
other nutrients, according to the study, which was published online
this month in the
Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders.
Healthy eating promotes a child's growth and development, and
mealtimes provide important opportunities for children to
socialize, the researchers noted. Chronic feeding troubles increase
a child's risk for problems such as malnutrition, poor growth,
social difficulties and poor school performance.
The researchers added that there is growing evidence that
feeding problems and dietary patterns among children with autism
may put them at increased risk for long-term health problems such
as poor bone growth, obesity and cardiovascular disease.
"The results of this study have broad implications for children with autism," study author William Sharp, an assistant professor at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta, said in a university news release.
"It not only highlights the importance of assessing mealtime concerns as part of routine health care screenings, but also suggests the need for greater focus on diet and nutrition in the autism community," added Sharp, who also is a behavioral pediatric psychologist in the Pediatric Feeding Disorders Program at Marcus Autism Center in Atlanta.
Sharp said that despite the risk of long-term medical issues,
feeding problems often are overlooked in relation to other areas of
concern in the autism population.
"Our findings have immediate and important implications for the work of practitioners serving children and families with autism, who in the absence of such information may struggle to address parents' concerns, or, worse, may fill the void with alternative treatments that may be ill-conceived or even harmful to children and families," Sharp explained.
The U.S. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
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