Celiac.com 05/08/2007 - A recent news release by the American Academy of Neurology claims that results of a recent Iranian study find no link between autism in children and the development of celiac disease. The study was conducted by a team of researchers led by Dr. Samra Vazirian of Tehran University of Medical Sciences.
The researchers compared blood samples from 34 children with autism and 34 children without autism. All blood samples were tested for antibodies used to detect celiac disease: anti-gliadin and anti-endomysial antibodies. Six children tested positive for these antibodies (four with autism, two without autism). These children were given intestinal biopsies to confirm the serological tests. The biopsies on all six children were negative for celiac disease.
From this, researchers concluded that children with celiac disease were no more likely to develop celiac disease than children without autism. According to Dr. Samra Vazirian, the gluten intolerance suffered by people with celiac disease might have no connection to autism, but also indicates that further research into the matter will be of benefit.
American Academy of Neurology, news release, May 1, 2007.
**Authors note: Given the small sample of subjects in this study, and given the clinical and anecdotal evidence for autistic children responding favorably to a gluten-free diet, coupled with the difficulty of conducting a comprehensive double-blind study involving clinical responses to a gluten free diet in autistic children versus their non-autistic counterparts, the results of this test should be treated with considerable scrutiny, if not outright skepticism. It will be interesting to find out whether or not the researchers used Marsh criteria in their assessment of the biopsies. Given the fact that double the number of autistic children had celiac disease positive serology we must conclude that, at the very least, autistic children have double the rate of gluten sensitivity than their non-autistic counterparts.health writer who lives in San Francisco and is a frequent author of articles for Celiac.com.