Objectives: To determine the rate of iron deficiency in children with ASD.
Methods: Children ages 2-10 years, enrolled in the Autism Treatment Network at 5 sites were eligible. All had a clinical diagnosis of ASD, confirmed by the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule. A 3 day diet record, ferritin, CBC, iron, total iron binding capacity (TIBC), and transferrin saturation were collected for each child. Hepcidin, sTfR, and c reactive protein (CRP) were collected from subjects who consented to an ancillary study.
Results: Preliminary data are available for 131 subjects (101 with autism, 8 with PDD, 22 with Asperger) who have had blood drawn for iron studies. Twenty-six (20%) had low ferritin and 41 (33%) had low transferrin saturation, however only 10 (8%) were low for both. There were only 3 subjects with low hematocrit associated with iron deficiency (2%). Iron deficiency defined by low ferritin and transferrin saturation was found in 10 children (8%) with ASD, of those 3 had evidence of mild iron deficiency anemia. This is in contrast to NHANES which found that 3% of 3-5 year olds in the general population have iron deficiency defined by the ferritin model.
Conclusions: While the determination of iron status is complex, children with ASD may be at risk for iron deficiency without anemia at a higher rate than the general population. Once more data are available, iron status will also be evaluated using transferrin receptors, CRP, and hepcidin. Iron status will then be compared to iron intake from both heme and non-heme dietary sources, and to clinical symptoms as measured by the Children’s Sleep Habits Questionnaire and the Child Behavior Checklist.
See more of: Medical, Psychiatric, and Behavioral Co-morbidities
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