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Autism Spectrum Disorder in Anorexia Nervosa: An Updated Literature Review

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)41
Issue number7
Early online date24 May 2017
Accepted/In press14 Apr 2017
E-pub ahead of print24 May 2017
PublishedJul 2017


King's Authors


PURPOSE OF REVIEW: There is growing interest in the relationship between anorexia nervosa (AN) and autism spectrum disorder (ASD). This review aimed to synthesise the most recent research on this topic to identify gaps in current knowledge, directions for future research and reflect on implications for treatment.

RECENT FINDINGS: Eight studies assessing the presence of ASD in AN were identified in the literature along with three studies examining the impact of symptoms of ASD on treatment outcome. Research with young people and using parental-report measures suggest lower rates of co-morbidity than previous adult studies.

CONCLUSIONS: The wide range of diagnostic tools, methodologies and populations studied make it difficult to determine the prevalence of ASD in AN. Despite this, studies consistently report over-representation of symptoms of ASD in AN. Co-morbid AN and ASD may require more intensive treatment or specifically tailored interventions. Future longitudinal research and female-specific diagnostic tools would help elucidate the relationship between these two disorders.

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