Brief Report: Association Between Autism Spectrum Disorder, Gastrointestinal Problems and Perinatal Risk Factors Within Sibling Pairs

J Autism Dev Disord. 2017 Aug;47(8):2621-2627. doi: 10.1007/s10803-017-3169-2.


Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) has been associated with gastrointestinal (GI) problems, but the nature of this association is unclear. Parents to siblings, concordant or discordant for ASD (N = 217), participated in a web survey covering mother's weight gain during pregnancy, maternal viral/bacterial infection and use of antibiotics, duration of breastfeeding, mode of delivery, birth weight and child GI problems. ASD was associated with GI problems and perinatal environmental risk, based on a summation of maternal infection and antibiotic use during pregnancy and/or the breastfeeding period. The association between GI problems and ASD remained within the sibling pairs (β = 1.23; p < .001) in the adjusted model. Our results indicate non-shared environmental effects on the ASD/GI association, but none of the factors examined explained the link.

Keywords: Autism spectrum disorder; Breastfeeding; Cesarean section; Gastrointestinal problems; Infections; Siblings.

MeSH terms

  • Autism Spectrum Disorder / epidemiology*
  • Child
  • Female
  • Gastrointestinal Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications / epidemiology*
  • Risk Factors
  • Siblings