Parents and caregivers of autistic children have been concerned for years and now the facts are in: children with autism, by and large, are eating poorly and perhaps dangerously so. That is the conclusion of the meta-study recently published by the Marcus Autism Center and the Department of Pediatrics at Emory University School of Medicine. After taking the research and results of every published study available on the subject and analyzing them together, they have concluded that children with autism are five times as likely as the general population to have feeding problems. After releasing these results in February 2013, researchers now hope to look more closely at what this means for individual autistic patients and their families.
What the consequences of these findings will be are not yet known. The first health concern is, of course, proper nutrition. A strictly limited diet over a long period of time could result in nutritional pitfalls for a population who can ill afford it. The Tufts University School of Nutrition Science and Policy found that even mildly poor nutrition can effect cognitive development in children. Another concern is the social and societal implications of poor eating. A child who already has social deficits may have an even harder time if their eating habits are noticeably out of the ordinary. Overcoming eating problems early can be an important part of the treatments and therapies an autistic child requires, impacting both the child’s overall health as well as the child’s ability to function socially in the world.