A 15-year-old Caucasian boy with autism, global developmental delay, chronic constipation, and oral aversion presents to the emergency department with parental concerns for worsening fatigue, weakness, and gait instability. Symptoms have been slowly progressive and accompanied by weight loss over the past 6 months. Whereas he used to run and jump, he is now unable to stand independently. His long-standing feeding difficulties have been refractory to intensive feeding programs, yet he continued to feed orally (with no previous attempts at enteral/parenteral nutrition). His daily diet consisted only of 50 to 60 oz of whole milk and 25 to 30 individual servings of butterscotch pudding per day (1,680–1,880 calories per day, 0.7 mg of iron per day).

On presentation he is afebrile, with normal blood pressure and respiratory rate for age. His heart rate is 118 beats/min. Growth parameters are at the 2nd and 25th percentiles for weight and height, respectively....

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