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Association between early and current gastro-intestinal symptoms and co-morbidities in children and adolescents with Angelman syndrome.
People with Angelman Syndrome tend to have a very happy disposition. However, they also tend to have severe intellectual disability, difficulty with language, and movement, sleep problems, epilepsy, and frequent gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms.
This study provides useful information to parents and professionals about how the GI symptoms that are experienced in early childhood years relate to developmental factors as children and adolescents with Angelman Syndrome get older. This issue was examined using data from 173 children and adolescents, whose parents had completed online questionnaires for the Global Angelman Syndrome Registry.
The study found that 84% of children and adolescents experienced constipation and 64% had gastroesophageal reflux. Children and adolescents who had frequent GI symptoms were more likely in infancy to refuse to nurse, vomit, and have difficulty gaining weight in infancy. They were also more likely to experience sweating and urinary incontinence at night. However, those with GI symptoms were not more likely to have sleep, toileting, or language problems, or exhibit problematic behaviours. Further research is now needed to examine the factors that are related to GI symptoms in adults who have Angelman Syndrome.
Full Citation: Leader, G., Whelan, S., Chonaill, N. N., Coyne, R., Tones, M., Heussler, H., Bellgard, M., & Mannion, A. (2022). Association between early and current gastro-intestinal symptoms and co-morbidities in children and adolescents with Angelman syndrome. J Intellect Disabil Res, 66, 15. Link to article
Biomarkers for early diagnosis of autism. There are currently no known autism-defining biomarkers, therefore a diagnosis of autism relies entirely upon behavioral evaluation.
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International Friendship Day!
Happy International Friendship Day!
Recently we posted a celebration of International friendship day to our social media.
Undoubtedly having quality friendships affects the well-being and educational success of autistic children. This helpful study by Siobhan O’Hagan and Judity Hebron explores what friendship means for autistic adolescents and what influences its developments. It tells us that those with autism often thrive in friendship building in online environments and seek friendships with like-minded individuals. You can read more on this study here.
An interesting study linking sleep and behavioral problems in children with autism to gastrointestinal issues.
Affective problems, gastrointestinal symptoms, sleep problems, and challenging behaviour in children and adolescents with autism spectrum disorder
This study examined how frequently emotional and mood problems occur for autistic individuals who also have other health conditions. The parents of 95 children and adolescents with autism completed questionnaires online. The results showed that emotional and mood problems were common and for 69% of children and adolescents their well-being was considerably affected. Another 10% were slightly affected the emotional and mood problems.
The study also found that individuals with emotional and mood problems were also more likely to have sleep, gastrointestinal, and behaviour problems.
Therefore, parents and healthcare professionals of autistic children and adolescents who have emotional and mood problems should seek to improve sleep and gastrointestinal problems. Doing this may also improve the emotional and mood problems.
Full citation: Leader, G., Browne, H., Whelan, S., Cummins, H., & Mannion, A. (2022). Affective problems, gastrointestinal symptoms, sleep problems, and challenging behaviour in children and adolescents with autism spectrum disorder. Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders, 92, 101915. Link to Article
Check out our most recent article!
Relationships between challenging behaviour and gastrointestinal symptoms, sleep problems, and internalizing and externalizing symptoms in children and adolescents with Angelman syndrome
This study involved 98 children and adolescents who have Angelman Syndrome (AS). It provided useful and novel information about this rare genetic condition and how other health problems present themselves. The study highlighted how individuals with AS can also have other problems that affect their well-being and how these problems can be related to one another. It investigated the relationships between the following problems that can occur in individuals with AS: gastrointestinal (GI), sleep, emotional, and behaviour problems. Parents completed several online questionnaires.
The study found that almost all people with AS have GI problems (99%), sleep problems (95%), behaviour problems (98%) and a considerable number had emotional difficulties (38%). It was also interesting that 72% of individuals with AS also had signs of being autistic.
As the children got older, they tended to show less stereotyped behaviour and less self-harm and aggressive/destructive behaviour. However, emotional problems increased as children got older and if these occurred, it was more likely that individuals would self-harm.
Full Citation: Leader, G., Gilligan, R., Whelan, S., Coyne, R., Caher, A., White, K., ... & Mannion, A. (2022). Relationships between challenging behavior and gastrointestinal symptoms, sleep problems, and internalizing and externalizing symptoms in children and adolescents with Angelman syndrome. Research in Developmental Disabilities, 128, 104293. Link to article
Gastrointestinal Symptoms in Autism Spectrum Disorder: A Systematic Review
We have systematically examined 30 research studies published since 2014 to understand the prevalence and nature of gastrointestinal (GI) problems that occur in autistic children and adolescents. We found that GI problems are common and that there was contradictory evidence about the relationship between GI problems and other problems, including regression in autism, language and communication, autism severity, sleep and behaviour problems, psychiatric problems, and sensory issues. We also found some evidence about the existence of pathways between the gut and immune system and the brain. However, to better understand these pathways there needs to be more research, like the GEMMA study that involves a large number of people who are followed in the study before and during the development of autism.
Full Citation: Leader, G., Abberton, C., Cunningham, S., Gilmartin, K., Grudzien, M., Higgins, E., Whelan, S., & Mannion, A. (2022). Gastrointestinal Symptoms in Autism Spectrum Disorder: A Systematic Review. Nutrients, 14(7), 1471. Link to Article
Examining the Relationship Between Sleep Quality, Social Functioning, and Behaviour Problems in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder: A Systematic Review
Because poor sleep quality affects over 40% of autistic children, it was important to understand what effect this may have. We systematically examined 46 previously published research studies to understand more about the relationship between sleep quality and social functioning and behaviour problems for autistic children. We found a small amount of evidence that sleep quality and social functioning may affect one another. Several nights of not enough sleep or not enough continuous deep sleep can adversely affect behaviour and emotions. Sleep quality is also reduced by anxiety and sensory sensitivity. More research is needed in the future to better understand how poor sleep quality affects and is affected by emotional problems and how it is impacted by different cultural practices. There is also currently little agreement on how best to measure the sleep quality of autistic children and best practice guidelines need to be developed and agreed upon.
Full Citation: Whelan, S., Mannion, A., Madden, A., Berger, F., Costello, R., Ghadiri, S., Leader, G. (2022) Examining the Relationship Between Sleep Quality, Social Functioning, and Behavior Problems in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder: A Systematic Review . Nature and Science of Sleep. 14, 675-695 Link to Article