A quarterly publication of the Autism Research Institute

The Autism Research Review International is quarterly publication of the Autism Research Institute

Winter 2024 | Number 1, Volume 38

Chronic constipation in young children associated with higher rate of ASD

Researchers in Japan and the United States report that children with chronic functional constipation (CFC)—in other words, chronic constipation due to unknown causes—have an elevated rate of autism spectrum disorders (ASD).

Fumiaki Akama and colleagues analyzed data on 55 young children. Thirty of the participants had CFC, while 25 were controls who did not suffer from constipation. To evaluate the children’s psychiatric symptoms, the researchers asked their caregivers to fill out the Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL) and Aberrant Behavior Checklist-Japanese version (ABC-J). A child psychiatrist also evaluated the children for ASD.

The researchers report, “The mean Aberrant Behavior Checklist score and frequency of individuals with autism spectrum disorder were significantly higher in the chronic functional constipation group. After adjusting for age and sex, chronic functional constipation was significantly associated with autism spectrum disorder.” In addition, they say, “In the chronic functional constipation group, the frequency of onset was significantly higher in children with autism spectrum disorder under one year of age. When treated, the mean duration of constipation was significantly longer in children with autism spectrum disorder.”

The researchers conclude, “In this study population, children with CFC had a high frequency of ASD and children with ASD had a longer duration of CFC and experienced CFC earlier in life.” They comment, “If clinicians encounter children with CFC and behavioral problems, they should consider the possibility of ASD as a comorbidity. When children with CFC develop ASD, pediatricians, pediatric surgeons, and child psychiatrists should work closely together to treat both CF and ASD effectively and immediately.”


“Psychiatric features of children with chronic functional constipation: focusing on individuals with autism spectrum disorder,” Fumiaki Akama, Katsunaka Mikami, Yasushi Orihashi, Syunya Takase, Kyuta Hanawa, Keita Nishikawa, Natsuru Watanabe, Keitaro Kimoto, Yuki Takahashi, Yuichi Onishi, Juan Salas, Kenji Yamamoto, and Shigeru Ueno, Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, January 24, 2024 (free online). Address: Katsunaka Mikami, Department of Psychiatry, Tokai University School of Medicine, 143 Shimokasuya, Isehara, Kanagawa 259-1193, Japan, [email protected].