Assessment of nutritional risk factors predisposing to autism among Saudi children


  • Azza Abd El Hafiz Alareefy et al.


Autism Autism spectrum disorder Diet Omega-3 Iron


Introduction: Autism is a neurodevelopmental condition of unknown aetiology which is usually diagnosed in the first 3 years of life. Several studies have linked reduced intake of some nutrients with autism and autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Objective: To identify nutritional risk factors that predispose to autism among preschool and school children living in Al-Madinah Al-Monawarah city in Saudi Arabia. Method: Thirty children with autism/ASD aged 2–12 years and 36 matched control children were compared regarding BMI and food intake, using 24-hour recall and a food frequency questionnaire. Results: Both groups consumed similar amounts of carbohydrates, protein and other nutrients, many of which were below the international recommendations for children of their age. However, children with autism/ASD also consumed significantly less omega-3 and iron than the control group. Conclusions: Children with ASD, like other children in Saudi Arabia, consume less than the recommended amounts of some nutrients. Autistic children have reduced intake of omega-3 and iron, together with limited intake of many food varieties which could be linked to autism in susceptible children.