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Study Claims No Link between Autism and Celiac Disease 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.

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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 welcomes your comments below (registration is NOT required).

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5 Responses:
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said this on
01 Jan 2008 11:41:15 AM PDT
I did found my asymptomatic child had celiac disease because I read in a book that many autistic kids did have it, I am very fortunate to have a husband and a great doctor that agree to test him on that.

AJ Ponder
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said this on
06 Apr 2009 4:14:09 AM PDT
I thought exactly the same thing - that the study was a bit of a travesty. The small numbers combined with the misleading statement 'no more likely to develop celiac disease' (obviously we don't know if any of those children wouldn't develop celiac later in life) And yet all the mags ran this as being the final word - terrible -
It's also important to note -
IgG antibodies in mother (in utero) seem to have an impact for at least one form of autism...
'...exposure to abnormal immune system factors during pregnancy with specific behavioral outcomes in offpsring.'

This is something I kind of guessed given a few eg.s - so it's good to see that some research is being done.

Jesse Gunter
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said this on
22 May 2010 12:13:59 PM PDT
The connection between Celiac disease and Autism is simple. Kids that have both problems need only one cure. No more wheat. It is simple to conclude that Autism can also be caused by a food allergy.

Jesse Gunter
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said this on
22 May 2010 12:17:23 PM PDT
The connection between Celiac disease and Autism is simple. Those kids that have both conditions (like my son) only need one cure. No more wheat. It is easy to conclude that even if most kids don't get both conditions that they could still have the same cause, food allergies.

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said this on
11 Apr 2012 6:34:15 AM PDT
This study is just too small, but it does look as though autistic children probably have an incidence of celiac disease no higher or only a little higher than normal. Celiac disease I think affects women more, and autism affects boys around four times more, so these are difficult to comparisons. Gluten sensitivity is another matter. We need that researched. Celiac disease, and undiagnosed celiac disease in mothers - that's another issue, that does seem to be important.

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