Feeding problems and nutrient intake in children with autism spectrum disorders: a meta-analysis and comprehensive review of the literature

J Autism Dev Disord. 2013 Sep;43(9):2159-73. doi: 10.1007/s10803-013-1771-5.


We conducted a comprehensive review and meta-analysis of research regarding feeding problems and nutrient status among children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). The systematic search yielded 17 prospective studies involving a comparison group. Using rigorous meta-analysis techniques, we calculated the standardized mean difference (SMD) with standard error and corresponding odds ratio (OR) with 95 % confidence intervals (CI). Results indicated children with ASD experienced significantly more feeding problems versus peers, with an overall SMD of 0.89 (0.08) and a corresponding OR of 5.11, 95 % CI 3.74-6.97. Nutrient analyses indicated significantly lower intake of calcium (SMD: -0.65 [0.29]; OR: 0.31, 95 % CI 0.11-0.85) and protein (SMD: -0.58 [0.25]; OR: 0.35, 95 % CI: 0.14-0.56) in ASD. Future research must address critical questions regarding the cause, long-term impact, and remediation of atypical feeding in this population.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Child Development Disorders, Pervasive / complications*
  • Eating / psychology*
  • Energy Intake*
  • Feeding and Eating Disorders of Childhood / complications*
  • Humans