Aims: To review the literature on the histopathological diagnosis of the condition termed ‘autistic enterocolitis’.
Methods and results: We have reviewed all published works where mucosal biopsy specimens from autistic children have been examined histopathologically. Abstracts were excluded. Our review of the published works, nearly all from a single centre, identifies major inconsistencies between studies, lack of appropriate controls and misinterpretation of normal findings as pathology. Ileal lymphoid hyperplasia may be more prevalent in children with regressive autism but is also seen in children with food allergies and severe constipation, the latter being an extremely common finding in autistic children.
Conclusion: The histopathological diagnosis of autistic enterocolitis should be treated with caution until a proper study with appropriate methodology and controls is undertaken.