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Role of the gut-brain axis in the eating behavior of children with autism spectrum disorders

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Introduction: The occurrence of autism spectrum disorders (ASD) has significantly increased in the last few years. One of the common problems in this group are eating disorders and ailments from the gastrointestinal systems. According to some studies, these problems have a significant impact on the occurrence and severity of symptoms in the neurological system, so it is crucial to increase the attention paid on the role of diet in the treatment of this disease. One of the theories connects ASD with disorders of the digestive system and the intestinal bacterial flora. This theory is based on the gut-brain axis, which means the interaction between the gastrointestinal and nervous systems. Objectives: To demonstrate the differences in behavior habits, interest in nutrition, and frequency of consumption of food products between children suffering from ASD and healthy children. Materials and methods: The study was conducted among 44 children suffering from ASD and 33 healthy children as a control group. Data were collected using a questionnaire that was specially designed for this study. The questionnaire contained questions about eating habits and the frequency of consumption of selected food products. Results: Parents of healthy children showed more interest in their children’s way of feeding and nutritional recommendations compared to parents of children with ASD (4% and 11.3%, respectively). In addition, 24.3% more children with ASD consulted with a nutritionist compared to the control group. Complaints of the digestive system were 21.1% more likely by children with ASD. Children suffering from ASD were characterized by a higher intake of red meat and giblets and less frequent consumption of milk and milk products compared to the control group. There were no statistically significant differences between the study group and the control group in terms of frequency of consumption of products, which are the source of gluten, artificial food additives-preservatives, and artificial colors. Conclusions: There are differences in the habits and eating behaviors and the frequency of consumption of selected food products between a group of children with ASD and a group of healthy children.
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Bibliogr. 35 poz., tab.
  • Faculty of Medicine, Jagiellonian University Medical College, 31-008 Krakow, Poland
  • Faculty of Electrical Engineering, Automatic Control and Informatics, Opole University of Technology, 45-758 Opole, Poland
  • Department of Bioinformatics and Telemedicine, Jagiellonian University Medical College, 31-008 Krakow, Poland
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