Celiac Disease, Autism Spectrum Disorders LInked?

Sep 28, 2013
Study Finds No Association Between Celiac Disease, Autism Spectrum Disorders

Researchers found no association between celiac disease (CD, an immune disorder with gastrointestinal symptoms triggered by gluten exposure) and autism spectrum disorders (ASDs), although there appeared to be an increased risk of ASDs in patients with normal mucosa (lining) in their gastrointestinal tract but a positive antibody test commonly seen with CD, according to a report published by JAMA Psychiatry, a JAMA Network publication.

Several case reports have suggested an association between CD and ASD, but research findings have been contradictory, with most studies suggesting no association between the two diseases, according to the study background.

Jonas F. Ludvigsson, M.D., Ph.D., of the Karolinska Institutet, Sweden, and colleagues used a Swedish national patient register to identify patients with ASDs and they used 28 Swedish biopsy registers to collect data about patients with CD (n=26,995), patients with inflammation of the small intestine (n=12,304) and patients with normal mucosa but a positive CD blood test (n=3,719) and compared them with a control group of individuals (n=213,208).

Having a prior diagnosis of an ASD was not associated with CD (odds ratio [OR], 0.93) or intestinal inflammation (OR, 1.03), but it was associated with an increased risk of having a normal mucosa but a positive antibody test commonly seen with CD (4.57), according to the study results.

The researchers note that the mechanism of association with a positive CD antibody is not clear. They speculate the association could be due to increased mucosal permeability in some patients with CD or in individuals with elevated levels of some antibodies.

“Our data are consistent with earlier research in that we found no convincing evidence that CD is associated with ASD except for a small excess risk noted after CD diagnosis,” the researchers comment.

(JAMA Psychiatry. Published online September 25, 2013. doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2013.2048.