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Eur J Pediatr. 2010 Oct;169(10):1201-6. doi: 10.1007/s00431-010-1203-x. Epub 2010 Apr 27.

A preliminary study on nutritional status and intake in Chinese children with autism.

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  • 1Children Development and Behavior Research Center, Harbin Medical University, Harbin, China.


Parents of children with autism often report gastrointestinal problems as well as picky eating and selective eating in their children. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the nutritional status and the nutrient intake in 111 Chinese children with autism, aged between 2 and 9 years. Anthropometric data were expressed as Z scores. A 3-day dietary recall was provided by the parents, and the data were compared with the national Dietary Reference Intakes (DRI) standards for Chinese children. The results showed that only nine of the autistic children (8.1%) were acute or chronically malnourished. From the remaining 102 patients, 67 (60.4%) were eutrophic and 35 (31.5%) had either overweight or obesity. Intakes of both calories and proteins were adequate in the vast majority of these children, but the calories from fat was lower than DRI in the same age group. The average intake of vitamin E and niacin exceeded 100% of DRI, and the intakes of vitamin B1 and B2, magnesium, and iron were between 80% and 90% of DRI range. However, the following nutrients did not meet the DRI requirements at all: vitamins A, B6 and C, folic acid, calcium, and zinc. Although growth was satisfactory in the vast majority of these children with autistic disorder, this study revealed serious deficiencies in the intakes of several vitamins and essential nutrients.

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