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Is Picky Eating an Early Sign of Autism? - featured July 19, 2010

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New research on the finicky eating habits of children with autism finds that while autistic children do tend to eat a less varied diet than other kids, their feeding preferences have little negative effect on their height, weight and growth.

Researchers at the University of Bristol began with a database of all children who were born between 1991 and 1992 and enrolled in a long-term study in Avon, England. The children's caregivers completed detailed food questionnaires describing the kids' eating habits at five intervals, beginning at 6 months and continuing to age four and a half. Since autism is generally not diagnosed until after age 2, when children begin speaking, the study captured feeding habits in children well before parents were even aware their children may be affected with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD). That means their answers to the questionnaires were less likely to be biased by knowledge of their child's eventual autism status.(See pictures of summer camp for autistic kids.)

By the end of the study, when the children were 7 years old, 79 had been diagnosed with an ASD, compared with 12,901 who had not.

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Tags: News of the Week Autism Newsletter 23 July 2010