Celiac Disease and ADHD
researchers say they found elevated antibodies to gluten proteins of wheat in children with autism, but no connection to celiac disease. The study, published in the journal PLoS One, found an association between the elevated antibodies and the presence of gastrointestinal symptoms in the affected children, but there was no connection between the elevated antibodies and celiac disease — an autoimmune disorder known to be triggered by gluten. Armin Alaedini, an assistant professor of medical sciences at Columbia University Medical Center, and colleagues looked at blood samples and medical records of 140 children. Thirty-seven of the children were diagnosed with autism and the rest were unaffected siblings or healthy control subjects. To increase diagnostic accuracy, only patients identified as having autism according to two well-recognized diagnostic instruments, Alaedini said. The blood samples were tested for antibodies and also tested for genes encoding certain human leukocyte antigens, which are strongly associated with celiac disease, Alaedini said. “The antibody response to gluten does not necessarily indicate sensitivity to gluten or any disease-causing role for the antibodies in the context of autism,” Alaedini said in a statement. “But the higher levels of antibody to gluten and their association with gastrointestinal symptoms point to immunologic and/or intestinal permeability abnormalities in the affected children.” Alaedini noted a better understanding of the immune response to gluten might yield novel clues about autism or offer biomarkers to identify a subset of patients that would respond to certain treatment strategies. 2013 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.
Those with celiac disease cannot tolerate gluten. This is found in wheat, rye and barley. Although it is most often thought of as in food, other products, such as medicines, vitamins and lip balms, can contain gluten. For those with celiac disease, eating foods with gluten cause an immune system reaction it begins to destroy villi, small fingerlike protrusions in the small intestine which help absorb nutrients in foods through the lining of the small intestine. When the villi are damaged, people become malnourished, no matter how much or what they eat. Symptoms of celiac disease include: Bloating of the abdomen Depression and anxiety Missed or irregular periods Some people do not experience any of these symptoms but may still have long-term effects, such as liver disease and cancer of the intestine. Research Showing a Link Between Celiac Disease and ADHD Two studies have shown a strong association between celiac disease and ADHD. The studies showed that those with undiagnosed ADHD have a higher rate of celiac disease than the general population. A study completed in 2011 at the Psychiatric Hospital of Rodewisch (Germany) looked at 67 people with diagnosed ADHD ranging in age from 7 to 42 years old. Ten of the participants tested positive for celiac disease and were put on a gluten-free diet for at least 6 months. Participants (or their parents) reported significant improvement in behavior and functioning and this was confirmed on questionnaires. Overall, celiac disease was found in 15 percent of those with ADHD, much higher than the 1 to 4 percent in the general population. They believe that celiac disease should be included in the ADHD symptom checklist.  A previous study, completed in 2006 looked at 132 patients with celiac disease.
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