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Study: No Link Between Autism, Celiac Disease


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Individuals with autism are no more likely to have celiac disease than those without the developmental disorder, according to findings from a large new study.

Researchers looked at health records from more than 250,000 people in Sweden, comparing several national databases of patient records to assess the prevalence of celiac disease among those with autism as compared to individuals without the developmental disorder.

They found no difference in prevalence of celiac disease between the two groups, according to findings published Wednesday in the journal JAMA Psychiatry.

However, individuals with autism were more likely to have a positive antibody test, which is common for those with celiac disease, though in order to be diagnosed with the condition, a person must have signs of intestinal damage as well.

In individuals with celiac disease, eating gluten prompts an immune system response that can damage the small intestine. The condition is estimated to affect about 1 to 2 percent of the population.

In recent years, many parents of kids with autism have put their children on gluten-free diets hoping to improve symptoms of the developmental disorder.

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Comments (6 Responses)

  1. Kevin says:

    It makes me wander; haw is possible to make comparing between “healthy” and gluten sensitive people, when no reliable test for gluten sensitivity is available.

  2. Julie says:

    Would a postitive antibody reaction mean an allergy to gluten? You didn’t clarify how the increased antibody reaction would effect those with autism or how the diets may help some people with autism.

  3. Bethany Joy says:

    The headline on this article is mis-leading, as the study did actually find a correlation between individuals with positive celiac disease serological results (but no intestinal damage) and risk/rates of ASD. I don’t have access to the full article, so it would be helpful if Disability Scoop tried to provide a fuller examination of these results.

  4. fairlady68 says:

    I would be interested to learn more about the prevalence of GI disorders of all kinds among people on the spectrum. I have long suffered with GERD and IBS and I have heard that other autistics struggle with similar maladies.

  5. patm says:

    I am forwarding this to Jenny McCarthy!

  6. Sarah says:

    Please go to the IACC web site and watch the July 2013 meeting broadcast. At this meeting, Dr. Timothy Buie, of MGH Ladders program talks about treating children with autism who have serious GI issues. Buie also delves into latest research on GI problems in children with autism.

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