The following is a summary of “Evaluation of Chronic Constipation in Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder,” published in the February 2023 issue of Gastroenterology and Nutrition by Coe, et al.

In children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), chronic constipation was common. For a study, researchers sought to ascertain if children with ASD had aberrant colonic motor activity at a greater rate than children without ASD. Identifying children with ASD who are at risk of having abnormal colonic motility was one of the study’s secondary objectives.

Colonic manometry (CM) of an ASD cohort and non-ASD controls with persistent constipation were compared in a retrospective, propensity-matched, case-control study. As possible predictors of abnormal intestinal motility, clinical factors were examined.

Included were 56 ASD patients who underwent CM and 123 controls who did not have an ASD diagnosis. 35 matched cohorts of ASD and controls were produced using the propensity score. ASD & matched controls did not substantially vary in the incidence of aberrant CM results (24% vs 20%, P = 0.78). The sensitivity and specificity of a prediction model for aberrant CM that took into account the diagnosis of ASD, the length of constipation, and soiling were 0.94 and 0.65, respectively. For every extra year of constipation, the likelihood of irregular colonic motility rose by 11%. In ASD children who also soiled more frequently than controls, the odds of impaired motility were 30 times greater (P< 0.0001).

The prevalence of defective colonic motility in children with ASD did not seem to be increased by chronic constipation. It was possible to identify individuals with ASD who were more likely to experience aberrant colonic motility using clinical data on illness duration and the presence of constipation-related soiling.