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Autism Spectrum Disorder: Biological Factors

This entry provides an overview of the biological factors associated with the neurodevelopmental disorder known as autism spectrum disorder (ASD), including comorbid medical conditions, comorbid psychiatric conditions, and differences in brain structure and function.

Comorbid Medical Conditions

ASD is associated with several medical conditions, including gastrointestinal (GI) problems, epilepsy, and sleep problems. Although estimates of the prevalence of GI symptoms in individuals with ASD vary widely (from 9% to 76%), the consistent pattern across most studies is a higher frequency of these issues in this population as compared with typically developing individuals as well as those individuals with other neurological conditions. Most commonly reported problems include constipation, abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhea, gaseousness, reflux, and nausea. These GI-related medical problems can manifest as behavioral problems in children ...

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