Possible Association Between Celiac Disease and Autism Spectrum Disorder

A handful of high quality studies have suggested a possible association between Celiac Disease (CD) and Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), according to a study published in the Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition.

The incidence of CD and ASA has increased over the past few decades. Children with ASA are more likely to follow a gluten-free diet (the only treatment for celiac disease) than those without ASA. Therefore, the researchers conducted a systematic literature review of MEDLINE and ENBASE, with no restriction on year or language, and rated the research that examined the relationship between CD and ASD.

Observational studies reporting the occurrence of CD in patients with ASA and / or the occurrence of ASA in patients with CD were included. Study quality was assessed using an adapted Newcastle-Ottawa Quality Assessment Scale, and no meta-analysis was performed due to the significant heterogeneity between studies.

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The researchers identified 298 unique citations, and of those articles, 17 rated the association between CD and ASA. Of these articles, 13 were observed samples from patients with ASA and 6 were observed samples from patients with CD. They found that most of the studies had small samples overall and provided no evidence of a link between the two conditions. However, a limited number of higher quality population-based studies indicated a possible association between CD and ASA.

The authors concluded, “Most studies examining an association between CD and ASD are at risk for systematic and / or random errors.” They added, “Future studies should recruit larger samples, precise definitions of CD and ASD and exclude patients with ASA from a gluten-free diet. “


Quan J, Panaccione N, Jeong J, et al. Relationship Between Celiac Disease and Autism Spectrum Disorder: A Systematic Review. JPGN. 2021; 72 (5): 704-711. doi: 10.1097 / MPG.0000000000003051

This article originally appeared on Gastroenterology Advisor


Autism Spectrum Disorders General Gastroenterology Pediatrics Neurology Pediatrics

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