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Autistic enterocolitis: fact or fiction?

Autism spectrum disorder refers to syndromes of varying severity, typified by impaired social interactions, communicative delays and restricted, repetitive behaviours and interests. The prevalence of autism spectrum disorders has been on the rise, while the etiology remains unclear and most likely multifactorial. There have been several reports of a link between autism and chronic gastrointestinal symptoms. Endoscopy trials have demonstrated a higher prevalence of nonspecific colitis, lymphoid hyperplasia and focally enhanced gastritis compared with controls. Postulated mechanisms include aberrant immune responses to some dietary proteins, abnormal intestinal permeability and unfavourable gut microflora. Two autism spectrum disorder patients with chronic intestinal symptoms and abnormal endoscopic findings are described, followed by a review of this controversial topic.

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