Children’s Hospital Los Angeles Studying Tummy Troubles and Autism

By Christina Elston

GI Autism special needs

Researchers from Children’s Hospital Los Angeles are conducting a study to see whether treating GI issues in kids with autism improves their behavior.

Research has shown that children on the autism spectrum experience more, and more severe, stomach problems such as constipation and bloating than other children their age do. If your child is one of them, you might be interested in a study being conducted by the special needs researchers at the Boone Fetter Clinic at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles.

Because the discomfort from these gastrointestinal issues can make school and social interactions more difficult for kids, experts at CHLA are interested in finding out whether treating those issues can help kids on the spectrum become more social. The research team is looking for 120 children on the autism spectrum who also experience GI issues to volunteer to participate in the research.

The hospital says that study participants will receive the highest standard of care to treat their constipation, and regular checkups to look at behavioral changes over the course of a year.

The study will be led by neurobiologist Pat Levitt, Ph.D., an international expert in neurodevelopmental disorders, and is funded by Autism Speaks. Levitt’s goal is to set guidelines so that doctors can more effectively treat GI issues and autism symptoms. There is also a possibility that effectively treating constipation in children with autism could reduce the need for behavioral medications.

Parents interested in learning more about the study should contact the research team at

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