Which health conditions are more common in children with autism?

If your child is diagnosed with autism, it’s not surprising that your initial focus is working with his or her pediatrician to learn everything you can about managing this disorder. One thing that often gets overlooked is the fact that autism also increases the risk of other health conditions in kids . By knowing the conditions that your child has a greater risk of developing, you can be vigilant about spotting the symptoms and reporting them to his or her pediatrician as soon as possible. Although your pediatrician is the best source of information about your child’s specific health risks, here are some of the conditions that occur more frequently in kids with autism.

Gastrointestinal disorders
Gastrointestinal—or GI—disorders are among the most common co-occurring conditions with autism. Kids who have autism are more likely than other kids to suffer from a range of GI symptoms, including:

  • Chronic constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • IBS
  • GERD

As with most conditions, researchers are not sure why there is an increased risk of GI disorders with autism. Your pediatrician can recommend many different treatment options, depending on the nature of your child’s symptoms. The discomfort of GI disorders can impact your child’s behavior, so finding effective treatments is important.

Sleep disorders
Autism is closely linked with disrupted sleep, and most kids with autism will experience problems with sleeping at least sporadically. For some kids, sleep problems become chronic, leading to ongoing problems with falling and staying asleep. Disrupted sleep can cause a range of symptoms for kids with autism, including:

  • Daytime drowsiness
  • Hyperactivity
  • Inattentiveness

Sleep disorders in kids with autism can also affect the rest of the family’s sleep. Your pediatrician will try to determine if there are underlying causes for your child’s disrupted sleep, such as medication side effects, and recommend bedtime strategies that can help.

Seizure disorders
There is a close link between seizure disorders and autism. Kids with autism have a dramatically increased risk of developing a seizure disorder, while kids who have seizure disorders are more likely to be diagnosed with autism.

Treating seizure disorders is important for the overall wellness of kids with autism. Your pediatrician may recommend medications and dietary changes.

Finding out that your child has autism can be overwhelming, but the Las Vegas pediatricians at Sunrise Children’s Hospital are here to help you every step of the way. Call our children’s hospital at (702) 233-5437.

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