Prior studies conducted in Oman indicated relatively high prevalence of malnutrition and micronutrient deficiencies among children with ASD compared to non-ASD children. Nonetheless, little information is available regarding the food items being accepted by these children or the possible factors contributing to their feeding problems.
The overall aim is to carry out a comprehensive assessment of nutritional wellbeing of children with ASD in Oman. Specific objectives include: 1) Evaluation of dietary adequacy; 2) Investigation of nutritional risk factors such as food selection, feeding problems, low physical activity, and medication/food supplement.
Methods: < style="text-align: left;">Participants will be caregivers of 150 Omani children with ASD aged 3-14 years, and caregivers of 150 non-ASD controls. Cases and controls will be matched according to age, gender, and ethnicity of children. Data of interest include demographic information, anthropometric measurements, and dietary and nutritional information. Dietary assessment will be done using the following tools: 1) Gilliam Autism Rating Scale (GARS); 2) Children’s Eating Behavior Inventory (CEBI); 3) Food Preference Inventory (FPI); and 4) The 3-day food record.
A pilot study has been completed based on 20 cases and 20 controls. The preliminary results indicated high response and cooperation rates among participants. The data collection tools have been standardized to the local set up. Piloting assessment indicated high reliability; and high validity parameters (content, construct, and criterion).
Study protocol for a comprehensive nutritional assessment of children with ASD in Oman has been designed. Initial piloting indicated high applicability of study tools to local context.
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