Washington: It has been seen that children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are affected by epilepsy, immune disorder, gastrointestinal issues along with developmental delays, all together.
A new study says that a classification system for these conditions can yield insights into the underlying mechanics of ASD and these conditions.
In the study published in the journal ‘Autism Research,’ the team has found three subgroups within the cohort of 3,278 children with autism.
The first group, about a quarter of the children, had high rates of co-occurring condition diagnoses. The second cluster, also about a quarter of the children, had high rates of developmental delays, specifically.
The third group, which consisted of the remaining 50 per cent of children, had the lowest rates of co-occurring condition diagnoses, only slightly higher than the group of 279,693 children without ASD.
Juergen Hahn, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, said: “This could potentially be a blueprint for looking at the subtypes of autism. I’m not saying it’s the only way to do it but I think it’s an important step in that direction.”
The analysis also pointed out that certain conditions like gastrointestinal and immune disorders, seizure and sleep disorders often co-occurred at similar points in time in children with autism.
“Once you know which conditions happen together, then you can look at if there is some commonality among the underlying mechanisms. Maybe you find that if there’s an intersection of mechanism that causes one problem or the other,” said Hahn.
The data showed that gastrointestinal symptoms are twice as common in children with autism, but that antibiotics don’t increase those symptoms in children with ASD any more than they do in children without ASD.
In the study, the team was able to map over time when children were diagnosed with co-occurring conditions. Those timelines show that at certain ages, diagnosis rates diverge between children with autism and children without.
“That tells you that something must be causing this and so we have to figure out what is going on in the body at this point in time that might either cause or contribute to these divergences somehow,” Hahn concluded.