Lessons in early identification and treatment from a case of disabling vitamin C deficiency in a child with autism spectrum disorder

Int J Psychiatry Med. 2019 Jan;54(1):64-73. doi: 10.1177/0091217418791443. Epub 2018 Aug 4.


Background: Autism spectrum disorder is a heterogenous neurodevelopmental condition accompanied by a variety of associated features. Case reports suggest one such associated feature, food selectivity, increases risk for nutritional deficiencies; however, little attention has been given to prevent and treat nutritional deficiencies in youth with autism spectrum disorder.

Method: Single case report.

Results: This single case report presents a child with autism spectrum disorder and food selectivity difficulties that resulted in severe vitamin C deficiency. Although eventually corrected, the nutritional deficiency was debilitating, required invasive interventions, and resulted in significant social/emotional and economic costs.

Conclusions: We review the course of treatment and highlight strategies to prevent and more effectively treat nutritional deficiencies in youth with autism spectrum disorder.

Keywords: autism spectrum disorder; food selectivity; nutritional deficiency; prevention; treatment.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Ascorbic Acid / administration & dosage*
  • Ascorbic Acid Deficiency* / etiology
  • Ascorbic Acid Deficiency* / physiopathology
  • Ascorbic Acid Deficiency* / psychology
  • Ascorbic Acid Deficiency* / therapy
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder* / complications
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder* / physiopathology
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder* / psychology
  • Diet Therapy / methods
  • Early Diagnosis
  • Food Preferences / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Malnutrition* / etiology
  • Malnutrition* / psychology
  • Malnutrition* / therapy
  • Patient Care Management / methods
  • Risk Assessment
  • Vitamins / administration & dosage


  • Vitamins
  • Ascorbic Acid