Allergies are a common occurrence in the lives of children and adults. However, 26% of children with ASD have respiratory allergies compared to 15% of children without ASD. Food allergies also occur in approximately 14% of the population of children with ASD compared to 3% in children without (Altarac, 2008). Adams and Conn (1997) suggest that allergies, particularly food allergies contribute to the neurological symptoms apparent in ASD, including reduced concentration, difficulty sleeping, irritability, and decreased immune system functioning. Gurney, McPheeters, and Davis (2006) noted that parents of children with ASD report a higher incidence of allergies and an increased number of visits to healthcare professionals, such as pediatricians and emergency rooms.
To evaluate the relationship between allergies and diagnosis in children with autism spectrum disorders and children with other developmental disabilities in a tertiary care setting.
Approximately 124 children were evaluated through the Autism Clinics. Of these a percentage reported using medication and having allergies. The participants data were entered into a database and 2 separate chi square analyses will be conducted to decipher whether or not children with ASD exhibit different patterns of food, seasonal and environmental allergies.
The researchers expect to find significant results after running both 2x2 Chi-square tests. Specifically, it is reasonable to expect that children on the spectrum will show higher frequencies of food and other allergies when compared to their typically developing peers.
Based on the previous literature, it is anticipated that children with ASD will show an increased rate of allergies as compared to children with developmental disabilities. Given the public health implications of allergies in addition to the high medical costs associated with ASD, it is important t determine ways to prevent and treat allergies in ASD.
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