The relationship between gastroesophageal reflux disease and autism spectrum disorder in adult patients in the United States

This article was originally published here

Neurogastroenterol Motil. 2021 Dec 3:e14295. doi: 10.1111/nmo.14295. Online ahead of print.


BACKGROUND: Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) has been associated with psychiatric and neurocognitive disorders. Those with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are prone to gastrointestinal (GI) diseases, but most research has been done on children. Our aim was to determine the relationship between GERD and autism in adults and assess GERD-related complications in those with autism.

METHODS: A national cohort of adults aged 18 and above with GERD with and without ASD were compared to those without GERD. Complications of GERD that were studied included Barrett’s esophagus, erosive esophagitis, esophageal stricture, ulcer, and malignancy. Conditions associated with GERD were evaluated including chronic cough, wheezing, sore throat, non-cardiac chest pain, and hoarseness. GERD treatment that was evaluated included proton pump inhibitors (PPIs), H2 receptor antagonists (H2RA), and anti-reflux surgery.

KEY RESULTS: There was an increased risk of GERD in subjects with ASD (p = 0.0001). Erosive esophagitis and esophageal ulcer were more likely to occur in those with GERD and ASD (p = 0.0001). Those with ASD were at higher risk of suffering from wheezing following a diagnosis of GERD compared to those without ASD (p = 0.0001). Those with GERD and ASD were more likely to be treated with an H2RA both as monotherapy and in combination with PPI versus those without ASD (p = 0.0001 and p = 0.0037, respectively).

CONCLUSIONS AND INFERENCES: Adult patients with ASD are more likely to have GERD as well as complications including erosive esophagitis and esophageal ulcer. Treatment of patients with GERD and ASD is not consistent and may suggest health care disparities.

PMID:34859933 | DOI:10.1111/nmo.14295