Researchers call for more effective nutritional strategies for individuals with ASD

Bethesda, Md. — As the number of children affected by autism spectrum disorder (ASD) accelerates at an increasingly alarming rate each year, scientists from all over the world scramble to seek answers to the seemingly endless questions that surround the mysterious developmental disorder, as well as ways for those affected to overcome the condition.

But in the July 2015 issue of the American Society for Nutrition’s international review journal, “Advances in Nutrition”, scientists stressed that a lot of research need to be done in finding more effective nutritional strategies to keep individuals on the spectrum healthy.

Individuals— particularly children— with ASD often exhibit poor eating habits due to sensory hypersensitivity that restrict them from eating meals that provide them the proper nourishment.

In an article entitled “Nutritional Status of Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders: Do We Know Enough?”, the researchers examined the latest in scientific studies concerning the nutritional needs as well as the nutritional status of individuals dealing with ASD.

The authors of the study also evaluated researches done by nutrition scientists that suggest that lower vitamin B-6, vitamin B-12, and folate concentrations may possibly serve as biomarkers that can help in the early diagnosis of the developmental disorder.

The researchers also noted that abnormally accelerated growth rates in infancy can also be indicative of autism.

Individuals on the spectrum are also likely to be malnourished due to some behavioral challenges that make it difficult for them to maintain healthy eating habits as well as proper exercise. Unusual eating patterns and habits being exhibited by individuals with ASD also make them susceptible to extreme weight conditions, wherein they could either be overweight, or extremely underweight.

Authors of the study also suggested that apart from the persistent problem of poor eating habits, the implications of the behavioral problems of individuals with autism also result in a decreased chance of physical activities for them, which scientists conclude also play a huge role in their overall health.

The researchers called for further research in developing effective nutritional strategies to keep individuals on the spectrum healthier, including adults with ASD, citing that the exponential increase in the number of individuals diagnosed with ASD, coupled with their high mortality rates, lead to what they call “enormous public health implications.”

Source: Medical XPress: Review examines nutritional issues related to autism spectrum disorder