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  • Jefferson Adams
    Jefferson Adams
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    NIH Pumps $3M Into Feinstein Autism Study

      NIH awards $3 million grant for study of mother's autoimmunity during pregnancy and the risk of ASD in her child.

    Caption: Photo: CC--Scott Akerman

    Celiac.com 11/04/2016 - NIH has awarded a $3 Million grant to Dr. Betty Diamond, head of the Feinstein Institute's Center for Autoimmune and Musculoskeletal Diseases, and her colleague, Dr. Peter Gregersen, who heads the Feinstein Institute's Robert S. Boas Center for Genomics & Human Genetics, specifically to explore the relationship between a mother's autoimmunity during pregnancy and the risk of ASD in her child. Both are also researchers at the Northwell Health System's Manhasset-based R&D division.

    Doctors Diamond and Gregerson are following up their own previous studies that showed antibodies can lead to abnormal brain development and ASD symptoms.

    Also known as 'immunoglobulins,' antibodies are Y-shaped proteins produced mainly by plasma cells, white blood cells that can secrete large volumes of antibodies, and which the immune system uses to identify and neutralize pathogens including bacteria and viruses.

    The new study seeks to determine if increased levels of antibodies in pregnant women with autoimmune inflammatory disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus or celiac disease, leave these women at increased risk of having children on the autism spectrum.

    Titled "Prenatal Autoimmune and Inflammatory Risk Factors for Autism Spectrum Disorders," the new study will track 4,500 women who deliver babies at hospitals in the Northwell Health system, along with their babies, for two years.

    Participating mothers will receive a blood test during pregnancy to spot any potential autoimmune disease or diseases, and also to spot any elevations in immune activation, or in cell-signaling cytokine proteins.

    The research team will then monitor the children for signs of ASD. While researchers have already determined that autism spectrum disorders are at least partly influenced by genetics, "relatively little attention has been paid to the role of environment, and particularly the intrauterine environment," says to Gregersen.

    This research will help researchers to better understand the connections between a mother's autoimmunity levels during pregnancy, and the risk of later ASD in her child.

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  • About Me

    Jefferson Adams earned his B.A. and M.F.A. at Arizona State University, and has authored more than 2,000 articles on celiac disease. His coursework includes studies in biology, anatomy, medicine, and science. He previously served as Health News Examiner for Examiner.com, and provided health and medical content for Sharecare.com. Jefferson has spoken about celiac disease to the media, including an appearance on the KQED radio show Forum, and is the editor of the book "Cereal Killers" by Scott Adams and Ron Hoggan, Ed.D.

  • Related Articles

    Jefferson Adams
    Gluten-sensitivity in Autism Different than Celiac Disease
    Celiac.com 07/24/2013 - Gastrointestinal symptoms are a common feature in children with autism, drawing attention to a potential association with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity.
    So far, studies of the immune response to gluten in autistic individuals, along with its association with celiac disease have produced inconsistent data.
    A team of researchers recently set out to assess immune reactivity to gluten in children diagnosed with autism according to strict criteria, and to evaluate the potential link between autism and celiac disease.
    The research team included Nga M. Lau, Peter H. R. Green, Annette K. Taylor, Dan Hellberg, Mary Ajamian, Caroline Z. Tan, Barry E. Kosofsky, Joseph J. Higgins, Anjali M. Rajadhyaksha, and Armin Alaedini.
    For their study, the team assessed 37 children (with or without gastrointestinal symptoms) diagnosed with autism according to both the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule (ADOS) and the Autism Diagnostic Interview, Revised (ADI-R), 27 unaffected siblings, and 76 age-matched healthy controls.
    They then tested blood specimens for antibodies to native gliadin, deamidated gliadin, and transglutaminase 2 (TG2). They then genotyped all children with positive antibody tests for celiac disease associated HLA-DQ2 and -DQ8 alleles.
    The team found that children with autism had substantially higher levels of IgG antibodies compared with unrelated healthy controls (p<0.01). The IgG levels were also higher compared to the unaffected siblings, but were not statistically significant. Autistic children with gastrointestinal symptoms showed significantly greater IgG anti-gliadin antibody response, compared to those without them (p<0.01). All groups showed similar IgA response to gliadin across groups.
    Both study subjects and control subjects ahd similar levels of celiac disease-specific serologic markers, i.e., antibodies to deamidated gliadin and TG2. The researchers found no association between increased anti-gliadin antibody and presence of HLA-DQ2 and/or -DQ8.
    Some children with autism do show a type of increased immune reactivity to gluten which appears to be different from celiac disease.
    The increased anti-gliadin antibody response and its association with GI symptoms suggests that these children may suffer from immunologic and/or intestinal permeability abnormalities.
    Source:
    PLOS Online

    Jefferson Adams
    Celiac.com 10/15/2013 - Most case reports suggest an association between autistic spectrum disorders (ASDs) and celiac disease (celiac disease) or positive celiac disease serologic test results, but larger studies are contradictory.
    A team of researchers recently set out to examine the association between ASDs and celiac disease according to small intestinal histopathologic findings.
    The research team included Jonas F. Ludvigsson; Abraham Reichenberg; Christina M. Hultman; and Joseph A. Murray. They are variously affiliated with the Department of Medicine, Clinical Epidemiology Unit, and the Department of Medical Epidemiology and Biostatistics at the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, Sweden, with the Department of Pediatrics at Orebro University Hospital, Orebro University in Orebro, Sweden, with the Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology of the Department of Medicine, Mayo Clinic College of Medicine, Rochester, Minnesota, with the Department of Psychosis Studies at the Institute of Psychiatry at King’s College in London, United Kingdom, and with the Department of Psychiatry at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York, New York.
    For their nationwide case-control study, the researchers used 28 Swedish biopsy registers to gather data on approximately 26,995 individuals with celiac disease, which they defined as the presence of villous atrophy, Marsh stage 3.
    They found 12,304 patients with inflammation (Marsh stages 1-2), 3719 patients with normal mucosa (Marsh stage 0), but positive celiac results for IgA/IgG gliadin, endomysium, or tissue transglutaminase. They then compared these results against and results for 213,208 age- and sex-matched control subjects. The team used conditional logistic regression to estimate odds ratios (ORs) for prior ASD diagnosis according to the Swedish National Patient Register and then conducted a second analysis, using Cox proportional hazards regression to estimate hazard ratios (HRs) for future ASDs in individuals undergoing small intestinal biopsy.
    They found that previous ASD was not associated with celiac disease (OR, 0.93; 95% CI, 0.51-1.68) or inflammation (OR 1.03; 95% CI, 0.40-2.64). However, they did finds that previous ASD was associated with a sharp higher risk of having normal mucosa but positive serologic test result for celiac disease (OR, 4.57; 95% CI, 1.58-13.22).
    Once the team restricted the data to individuals without no diagnosis for ASD at the time of biopsy, they found that celiac disease (HR, 1.39; 95% CI, 1.13-1.71) and inflammation (HR, 2.01; 95% CI, 1.29-3.13) were both connected with slightly higher risks of later ASDs, compared against the HR of 3.09 (95% CI, 1.99-4.80) for later ASDs in individuals with normal mucosa but positive celiac disease serologic test results.
    Even though this study showed no connection between previous ASD and celiac disease or inflammation, it did show that individuals with normal mucosa, but positive blood screens for celiac disease, have a much higher risk of ASD.
    Source:
    JAMA Psychiatry. Published online September 25, 2013. doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2013.2048

    Jefferson Adams
    Gluten-free Diet Does Not Help Kids with Autism
    Celiac.com 09/21/2015 - A gluten-free diet does nothing to improve behaviors or symptoms of children with autism, according to the results of a study that, though small, is being called the most comprehensive and carefully controlled diet research in autism to date. The study results appear in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders.
    The study was conducted by Dr. Susan Hyman and colleagues at the University of Rochester Medical Center. Dr, Hyman is the division chief of neuro-developmental and behavioral pediatrics at the University of Rochester's Kirch Developmental Services Center, which sees some 1,200 children with autism each year.
    For the study, a group of preschool children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) received a gluten-free, casein-free (Gluten-free Casein-free) diet.
    Hyman's study enrolled 22 children between 2 ½- and 5 ½-years-old. Fourteen children completed the intervention, which was planned for 18 weeks for each family. The families had to strictly adhere to a gluten-free and casein-free diet and participate in early intensive behavioral intervention throughout the study. Children were screened for iron and vitamin D deficiency, milk and wheat allergies and celiac disease. One child was excluded because of a positive test for celiac disease and one was excluded for iron deficiency. Other volunteers who were excluded were unable to adhere to the study requirements. The children's diets were carefully monitored throughout the study to make sure they were getting enough vitamin D, iron, calcium, protein and other nutrients.
    After four weeks of being established on diet, the children continued on the diet and were given snacks weekly that contained gluten, casein, neither or both.
    In addition to administering a gluten-free casien-free diet, the research team received a full complement of nutrients, such as vitamin D, calcium, iron and high quality protein, which can be lacking in children on gluten-free, casein-free diets.
    The kids were given a snack once weekly with either 20 grams of wheat flour, 23 grams of non-fat dried milk, both, or neither until every child received each snack three times. Snacks were carefully engineered to look, taste and feel the same, and were given randomly with no knowledge by staff, families or children.
    Parents, teachers and a research assistant filled out standardized surveys about the child's behavior the day before they received the snack, at two and 24 hours after the snack.
    However, none of the diet and snack combinations affected children's sleep, bowel habits, or activity.

    The team did observe a small increase in the number of times children engaged in social interaction after eating food containing gluten or casein, but this increase did not reach statistical significance. A similar small increase in social language seen after the gluten challenge also did not reach statistical significance.
    The team cites the need for larger studies that appropriately monitor for diet and other interventions to determine whether gluten or casein affects social interaction or language among other children with ASD, such as children with gastrointestinal (GI) disease.
    For families who wish to eliminate gluten and casein from their child's diet need, the team points out the importance of carefully monitoring the autistic child's nutritional status.
    Sources:
    URMC Rochester URMC Rochester News Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders Department of Pediatrics and Clinical Research Center, Golisano Children's Hospital, University of Rochester Medical Center, Rochester, New York
    Research Supported By: National Institutes for Mental Health (Studies to Advance Autism Research in Treatment) NIMH U54 MH077397 and the National Center for Research Resources (NCRR) NIH UL1RR024160

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