Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

, Volume 49, Issue 2, pp 647–659 | Cite as

Gastrointestinal Symptoms and Oral Antibiotic Use in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder: Retrospective Analysis of a Privately Insured U.S. Population

  • Troy Vargason
  • Deborah L. McGuinness
  • Juergen HahnEmail author
Original Paper


A retrospective analysis of administrative claims data from a large U.S. health insurer was performed to study a potential association between oral antibiotic use during early childhood and occurrence of later gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms in children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Among 3253 children with ASD, 37.0% had a GI-related diagnosis during the last 2 years of their 5-year health coverage enrollment period, compared to 20.0% of 278,370 children from the general population without an ASD diagnosis. Greater numbers of oral antibiotic fills during the first 3 years of enrollment were found to significantly increase the hazard rate of having a later GI-related diagnosis (adjusted hazard ratio 1.48; 95% confidence interval 1.34, 1.63) in children both with and without ASD.


Autism spectrum disorder Gastrointestinal symptoms Oral antibiotics Gut microbiome Administrative claims Retrospective analysis 



The authors gratefully acknowledge partial financial support from the National Institutes of Health (Grant 1R01AI110642-01A1). Additional support for this research was received from the Rensselaer Institute for Data Exploration and Applications. The authors express their gratitude to John Erickson at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute for supporting the interactions with OptumLabs, and to the staff at OptumLabs for supporting the study design.

Author Contributions

TV conceived of the study, participated in study design and coordination, analyzed and interpreted the data, and drafted the manuscript; DLM contributed to the design and coordination of the study; JH conceived of the study, participated in study design and coordination, helped with interpretation of the data, and helped to draft the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Troy Vargason
    • 1
    • 2
  • Deborah L. McGuinness
    • 3
  • Juergen Hahn
    • 1
    • 4
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Biomedical EngineeringRensselaer Polytechnic InstituteTroyUSA
  2. 2.OptumLabs Visiting FellowRensselaer Polytechnic InstituteTroyUSA
  3. 3.Department of Computer ScienceRensselaer Polytechnic InstituteTroyUSA
  4. 4.Department of Chemical and Biological EngineeringRensselaer Polytechnic InstituteTroyUSA

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