Autistic disorder is a pervasive developmental disorder manifested in the first 3 years of life by dysfunction in social interaction and communication. Many efforts have been made to explore the biologic basis of this disorder, but the etiology remains unknown. Recent publications describing upper gastrointestinal abnormalities and ileocolitis have focused attention on gastrointestinal function and morphology in these children. High prevalence of histologic abnormalities in the esophagus, stomach, small intestine and colon, and dysfunction of liver conjugation capacity and intestinal permeability were reported. Three surveys conducted in the United States described high prevalence of gastrointestinal symptoms in children with autistic disorder. Treatment of the digestive problems may have positive effects on their behavior.
*†Department of Pediatrics, *Division of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition, University of Maryland School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland, USA.
Correspondence to Karoly Horvath, MD, PhD, Division of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition, University of Maryland School of Medicine, 22 South Greene Street, N5W70, Box 140, Baltimore, MD 21201-1595; USA; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org