Feeding Problems and Nutrient Intake in Children with and without Autism: a Comparative Study
Malhi, P.; Venkatesh, L.; Bharti, B.; Singhi, P.
Indian Journal of Pediatrics 84(4): 283-288
ISSN/ISBN: 0973-7693 PMID: 28078576 DOI: 10.1007/s12098-016-2285-x
To compare parent reported feeding difficulties and nutritional adequacy of children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) to an age and socio-economically matched group of typically developing children. The scores on Children's Eating Behavior Inventory (CEBI), three-day food records, anthropometric measures and adequacy of micro- and macro- nutrients were compared for 63 children diagnosed with ASD and 50 typically developing children enrolled from the department of pediatrics of a tertiary care teaching hospital from North India. The majority (79%) of the parents of ASD children reported some concern regarding their feeding behavior as compared to 64% of the parents of typically developing children. As compared to controls, ASD children had significantly higher CEBI scores (97.28 vs. 89.48, t = 3.15, P = 0.002) and more feeding problems (6.42 vs. 2.70, t = 3.74, P = 0.001). Relative to controls, ASD children consumed fewer number of food items (P = 0.022), particularly fruits (P = 0.004), vegetables (P = 0.011), and proteins (P = 0.015); had significantly lower daily intake of potassium (P = 0.001), copper (P = 0.007), and folate (P = 0.001). Although children with autism did not differ significantly from controls on intake of calories, height, weight, or body mass index, significantly greater proportion of ASD children failed to meet the estimated average requirement of thiamine (P = 0.039), vitamin C (P = 0.013), and copper (P = 0.005). The findings underscore the need for comprehensive assessment and empirically-supported interventions for eating problems and dietary deficiencies found in ASD children.