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Eating and Mealtime Behaviors in Patients with Autism Spectrum Disorder: Current Perspectives

Authors Margari L, Marzulli L, Gabellone A, de Giambattista C

Received 26 June 2020

Accepted for publication 7 August 2020

Published 11 September 2020 Volume 2020:16 Pages 2083—2102

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/NDT.S224779

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Dr Roger Pinder


Lucia Margari, Lucia Marzulli, Alessandra Gabellone, Concetta de Giambattista

Child Neuropsychiatric Unit, University of Bari Aldo Moro, Bari, Italy

Correspondence: Lucia Margari
Child Neuropsychiatric Unit, University of Bari Aldo Moro, Piazza Giulio Cesare, 11, Bari 70124, Italy
Tel +39 80 5592829
Email lucia.margari@uniba.it

Abstract: Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by impaired social and communication skills and repetitive and restrictive behaviors. Children and adolescents with ASD are more likely to present feeding problems than their typically developing peers are. The present narrative review of literature aims to highlight the most recent evidence about epidemiology and presentations of eating and mealtime behavioral abnormalities in ASD from infancy to adolescence. Abnormalities in breastfeeding and acceptance of complementary foods have been described by most of the studies evaluating ASD early feeding history. Among the various eating and mealtime behaviors identified in ASD children and adolescents, the most common was food selectivity. The present review also provides brief overviews of the various aspects of food that may influence food acceptance by ASD patients and of the correlation between eating problems and ASD core symptoms, as well as with cognitive level, language skills, and family environment. However, studies evaluating eating problems in ASD children and adolescents are very heterogeneous and they show methodological differences. Moreover, the absence of unique definitions of eating and mealtime behaviors in ASD further limits the comparability of studies.

Keywords: autism spectrum disorder, feeding, infancy, childhood, adolescence

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