When a child or teenager with autism seeks mental health treatment, do doctors and psychologists ask about gastrointestinal (GI) problems?

Perhaps they should, according to a new study. At first glance, constipation and other gastrointestinal problems may seem unrelated to anxiety, depression, aggression or disruptive behaviors. However, researchers found a link between them in youth with autism.

A study of almost 2,800 children and teenagers with autism in the Simons Simplex Collection (SSC) research project found that GI symptoms – usually constipation, diarrhea and excessive gas – were linked to psychiatric symptoms in those youth.

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