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6 Restricted diet causing irreversible visual impairment in children with autistic spectrum disorder: case series and review
  1. F Ghazala,
  2. R Hamilton,
  3. D Mansfield,
  4. E Millar
  1. Royal Hospital for Children, Glasgow, UK


Though micronutrient deficiency is recognized to cause visual system dysfunction, avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder (ARFID) has been poorly described in relation to this.

Review of 18 previously published similar cases highlights the importance of identifying other micronutrient deficiencies, even when vitamin A deficiency accounts for the presenting features. We present four patients with permanent visual loss as a result of highly restricted diets due to avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder (ARFID), and with autistic spectrum disorder (ASD).

The four cases reported here make a total of 22 reported cases of visual impairment due to ARFID-like restricted diets in boys with ASD. The severity of ASD varied widely across the 22 cases, but all had extremely restricted diets, in some cases tolerating only one or two food items. The most avoided food groups in children with ASD and food selectivity have been reported from the USA as vegetables, fruit, dairy and protein, with the most preferred food items being bread, chicken, cereal and yoghurt. In the 22 cases reviewed or reported here, tolerated foods tended to be predominately carbohydrate based, with dry or crunchy textures and beige or pale colouring, i.e. French fries, potato waffles, potato chips (crisps), rice, white bread, bagels, biscuits or cookies.

This case series and review highlights the need for heightened vigilance for visual problems in individuals with ASD-related ARFID and early and complete assessment of micronutrient deficiency.

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