Friday, September 27, 2013

Study Finds No Link Between Celiac Disease and Onset of Autism Spectrum Disorder

For years scientists have debated whether there is an association between celiac disease (CD)—characterized by gluten intolerance—and the onset of autism spectrum disorder (ASD). A study published this week in JAMA Psychiatry said that there is no evidence that such a link exists.

Researchers from Sweden collected data from approximately 43,000 patients with CD, intestinal inflammation, or a normal intestinal lining with a positive CD serology and compared them with 213,000 age-matched controls. Patients' medical records were evaluated for a prior diagnosis of ASD. The results showed that having a prior ASD diagnosis was not associated with CD or intestinal inflammation, but was highly correlated with a normal intestinal lining, with positive serology for CD.

“The link between autism and normal mucosa and positive celiac serology could be due to three things,” said Jonas Ludvigsson, M.D., Ph.D., lead author and a professor of epidemiology at Karolinska Institutet. "It could be a chance finding....It could be that patients with autism are more often tested for celiac...or it could be a true biological cause, perhaps an increase in mucosal permeability.” Though he said that this study is definitive, Ludvigsson noted that ASD association with other intestinal conditions should not be ruled out.

To read more about research into the causes of ASD, see the Psychiatric News article "CSF Excess in Brain May Help Predict Autism" and "Much of Autism's Groundwork May Be Laid Before Birth."

(Image: marekuliasz/


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