Monday, February 15, 2010

Misleading Research at Autism Insights

Misleading at Best
Autism Insights under a Editorial banner published Is There a Relationship Between Autisism and Gastrointestinal Disease?   This is research, not an editorial and the answer from the research presented is noAutism Insights is Wakefield's own peer-reviewed journal.

But that isn't what the abstract says:
--abstract start--
Abstract: Is gastrointestinal disease more prevalent in children with autism? There are arguments favoring both sides of the controversy. We present data collected from the medical history of a recent Autistic Genetic Resource Exchange (AGRE) database of autistic children and their siblings, demonstrating that autistic children may be significantly more susceptible to overall GI disease, as well as chronic diarrhea and constipation specifically [emphasis added]. Many autistic children have GI disease, however, whether this disease is significantly increased in children with autism is still being debated
-- abstract end--

Obviously, this is research. There is no IRB (Ethics) statement, which is surprising.  The first author A. J. Russo is, just like Krigsman with his paper, on the editorial board of Autism Insights. Except that Russo is editor-in-chief.

The paper is based on a download of the AGRE database and compared autistic children and their non-autistic siblings for reports of GI symptoms.  STOP.  As anyone who has followed the Wakefield follies should know, GI symptoms are not GI disease. The relevant diseases causing causing chronic diarrhea or constipation are the Inflammatory Bowel Diseases (IBD) namely Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis and perhaps Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS - described in error as Inflammatory Bowel Syndrome).  Chronic diarrhea or constipation are not GI diseases.  To be kind, we'll add in any reports of autistic enterocolitis, the disease invented by Wakefield and refuted by experts.

A quick look at the chart shows:  0 cases of IBD in either group. No cases of autistic enterocolitis reported. And no significant difference in IBS. So to the question, Is There a Relationship Between Autisism and Gastrointestinal Disease?  The answer to the question asked by the title is, NO, at least by this research paper.

But now we see some fancy footwork.  Because the chart and the abstract move from  GI disease to comparing GI disease plus chronic diarrhea and constipation compared to non-autistic sibling controls. And find autistic children have a significantly higher percentage of chronic diarrhea and constipation.  That is no surprise.

If anything, this paper rejects Wakefield and Krigsman's views. It support the view of experts that children with ASD do not have higher rates of GI diseases. 

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