BOSTON -- Contrary to previous studies, autistic children are no more likely than other children to have celiac disease, according to new research that will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology's 59th Annual Meeting in Boston, April 28 - May 5, 2007.
Researchers compared blood samples of 34 children with autism to samples of 34 children without autism who had been referred to an outpatient clinic of the same hospital. They looked for two antibodies used to help detect celiac disease--anti-gliadin antibodies and anti-endomysial antibodies. Biopsies of the small intestine were offered to children who tested positive for either antibody to confirm the diagnosis. Each group contained 18 boys and 16 girls between the ages of four and 16.
The study found autistic children were no more likely than children without autism to develop celiac disease. Anti-gliadin antibodies were found in four children with autism and two without autism. Biopsies on all six children came back negative for celiac disease.
"This study shows food allergies often associated with autism may have no connection to the gluten intolerance experienced by people with celiac disease," said study author Samra Vazirian, MD, with Tehran University of Medical Sciences in Tehran, Iran.
Autism is a developmental disability that impairs social interaction and communication. People with autism often experience food sensitivities, particularly to certain grains. Celiac disease is a disorder that can damage the intestines when gluten, which is found in many grains, is ingested.
The study also found no link between the level of antibodies and the severity of autism.
"Further research to determine the relationship between the levels of these antibodies in autistic children and the severity of autism would be beneficial," said Vazirian.
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The study was supported by Tehran University of Medical Sciences.
The American Academy of Neurology, an association of over 20,000 neurologists and neuroscience professionals, is dedicated to improving patient care through education and research. A neurologist is a doctor with specialized training in diagnosing, treating and managing disorders of the brain and nervous system such as Alzheimer's disease, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's disease, and stroke. For more information about the American Academy of Neurology, visit www.aan.com.
Editor's Note: Dr. Vazirian will present this research during a scientific poster session at 11:30 a.m. on Tuesday, May 1, 2007, in Exhibit Hall A of the Hynes Convention Center.
She will be available for media questions during a briefing at 11:00 a.m. on Monday, April 30, 2007, in the on-site Press Interview Room, room HCC 204. All listed times are for Eastern Time (ET).
If you are a member of the media interested in listening to the press briefing via conference call, please call the AAN Press Room (April 28 - May 4) at (617) 954-3126.