Repetitive behaviour and gut health were found to be connected in a recent study conducted by researchers Ohio State University College of Public Health. According to them, individuals with autism spectrum disorders are more prone to suffer from a range of gastrointestinal issues like chronic diarrhoea, constipation, food sensitivities, and abdominal pain.
The research that was published in the journal Autism did not find any connection between gastrointestinal problems and social or communication skills. They were, however, found to be associated with higher levels of irritability, aggressive behaviour, and specific fears.
The study was conducted on 176 children (140 males and 36 females) aged between 2 and 7. Of them, 93.2% reported at least one gastrointestinal symptom while 88.1% had more than one. Among the symptoms reported include constipation, food limits, gas/bloating, and stomach pain.
“After accounting for each associated behavioural symptom domain, repetitive behaviours and stereotypies were significantly associated with gastrointestinal symptom severity. Increased severity of ASD symptoms was correlated with increased gastrointestinal symptom severity,” the researchers said.
Lead researcher Payal Chakraborty said, “GI problems are a significant issue for many people with autism and there’s evidence that these symptoms might exacerbate certain autism behaviours, which can lead to greater developmental challenges.”
Their findings suggest that gastrointestinal symptoms may exacerbate repetitive behaviour, or vice versa, independent from other associated behavioural symptoms.