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Why Do Children with Autism Have Higher Rates of Skin Allergies?

Children with autism are at a greater risk for developing skin allergies, according to a recent study published in JAMA Network Open. The findings could potentially help behavioral researchers better understand mood swings and anxiety exhibited in young people with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 1 in 59 children have been diagnosed with ASD. The condition is four times more likely to be presented in males than females. Rates of ASD have been on the uptick, with a 154 percent increase of cases from 2000 to 2014 (from 1 in 150 children to 1 in 59). Although researchers suspect that the rise in diagnosis rates is due to the development of more accurate monitoring techniques and practices.

The study authors from the College of Public Health at the University of Iowa looked at reports from 199,520 participants between the ages of 3 and 17 who took part in National Health Interview Surveys between 1997 and 2016. The responses were provided on behalf of the participants’ parents or guardians. The researchers found that youth with ASD were 16.8 percent likely to have a skin allergy, compared to only 9.8 percent of non-ASD children.

Common skin allergies amongst children with ASD include rash and eczema. There is still no clear reasoning explaining the connection between allergies and ASD. The researchers explain that these findings demand further research, although possible causes might be T-cell imbalance, increased autoantibody production, and immune system dysfunction.

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