Autistic children almost always have a gastrointestinal problem as well, new research has revealed. The discovery throws open the possibility that childhood vaccinations, such as the MMR, do, after all, play a part in the autism epidemic. Around half of all autistic children have gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms, such as diarrhea and constipation, and the prevalence increases as the children get older. In a study of 1,185 autistic children, researchers from the Autism Speaks' Autism Treatment Network (ATN) discovered that 45 per cent had GI symptoms, although the rate increased to 51 per cent in children aged seven and older. The children with GI symptoms also had a higher rate of sleep problems, behavioural issues and generally a lower level of good health. The English gastroenterologist Dr Andrew Wakefield discovered that children who had been given the MMR vaccination were also more likely to suffer from gut problems and autism. (Source: The Pediatric Academic Societies' annual meeting, Vancouver, British Columbia, May 2, 2010).