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New Type of Inflammatory Bowel Disease Discovered in Children With Developmental Disorders

Am J Gastroenterol 2000;95:2154-2156,2285-2295.

Celiac.com 10/14/2000 - According to new research done by Dr. Andrew J. Wakefield, of the Royal Free and University College Medical School, in London (published in the September issue of the American Journal of Gastroenterology) children with developmental disorders seem to be at risk of developing a unique type of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). This newly discovered type lacks the typical features seen in Crohns disease and ulcerative colitis.

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The researchers studied 60 children with developmental disorders (50 had autism, five had Aspergers syndrome, two had disintegrative disorder, one had attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, one had schizophrenia and one had dyslexia.) whose ages ranged from 3 to 16 years old to compare the clinical and histologic features against 37 developmentally normal controls who underwent evaluation for possible IBD.

According to Dr. Wakefield and colleagues The combination of ileocolonic lymphoid nodular hyperplasia and colitis in children with developmental disorders distinguished them from developmentally normal children with similar symptoms (including abdominal pain and constipation) in whom lymphoid nodular hyperplasia and histopathological change were uncommon. They emphasize that their finding are consistent with those of other recent case studies, and that in their study inflammatory changes were detected in the upper gastrointestinal tract that were unique in children with autism and IBD, compared with developmentally normal children with IBD.

Further, there is accumulating evidence of a specific type of enterocolitis in autism that makes it tempting to suggest that a gut-brain interaction is involved in the pathogenesis of what many researchers are now calling autistic enterocolitis. The detection of opioid peptides of dietary origin in the urine of some of the affected children further supports this theory. The team emphasizes that further studies and more evidence is needed to establish a direct link between an inflamed gut and the brain in those with autism.

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