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Nerve Disease: Gluten-Free Diet Effective Treatment for Gluten Ataxia

J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry. 2003;74:1225-1230

Celiac.com 10/08/2003 – According to a study done by Dr. Hadjivassiliou and colleagues at the Royal Hallamshire Hospital in Sheffield, U.K., a strict gluten-free diet is effective treatment for gluten ataxia. According to the Dr. Hadjivassiliou: Gluten ataxia is an immune mediated disease, part of the spectrum of gluten sensitivity, and accounts for up to 40% of cases of idiopathic sporadic ataxia, further: In some case reports, adherence to a gluten-free diet is assumed or based on improvement of gastrointestinal symptoms or on duodenal biopsy, without concurrent serological evidence of elimination of circulating antigliadin antibodies. No systematic study of the effect of a gluten-free diet on a cohort of patients presenting with neurological dysfunction with or without an enteropathy has yet been reported.

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Their study looked at 43 patients with gluten ataxia, 26 of whom adhered to a gluten-free diet for one year (14 patients refused the diet, and three were eliminated after testing positive antigliadin antibodies). After one year the group of 26 on the gluten-free diet showed significant improvement on ataxia tests compared with the gluten-eating group.

The researchers conclude: Gluten ataxia responds to a strict gluten-free diet even in the absence of an enteropathy. The diagnosis of gluten ataxia is vital as it is one of the very few treatable causes of sporadic ataxia, further: The evidence that gluten ataxia is a manifestation of gluten sensitivity is now substantial and analogous to the example of dermatitis herpetiformis, from which it is apparent that the gut is not the sole protagonist in this disease."

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