Autism Linked To Gluten Consumption

The cause of autism is still yet to be known, as well as other related behavioral disorders.  However, something useful has been identified by a new study published in the open-access journal PLoS One.

Scientists from Columbia University in New York learned that wheat, and specifically wheat gluten, triggers a certain immune response in autistic children, and particularly people with gastrointestinal problems. This then creates myriads of symptoms commonly linked to autism.

After comparing the effects of gluten consumption in children with autism both with and without gastrointestinal problems to their unaffected siblings and age-matched healthy controls, the team learned that the autistic children had remarkable higher levels of the IgG antibody, which is known to target a gluten protein called gliadin. And in accordancewith the way this antibody functions, many think that high levels of it can also interrupt the  proper neurological function.

“It has been theorized that when the immune system forms antibodies against gliadin, these antibodies cross react with self-structures within the nervous system,” writes Sayer Ji for GreenMedInfo.com about the process. “Known as molecular mimicry, this breakdown of immunological self-tolerance can contribute to a wide range of neurological problems including neuropathy, ataxia, seizures, and neurobehavioral changes including mania, schizophrenia and autism.”

“Anti-gliadin antibodies are therefore a possible cause of autoimmune neurological damage,” he adds. Simply put, a lot of the symptoms shown by those who are diagnosed with autism can be cause by an antibody response brought about by being exposed to wheat gluten. Regardless of whether or not the blood markers of actual Celiac disease can be found, wheat gluten seems to greatly raise levels of this anti-gliadin antibody.

“A subset of children with autism displays increased immune reactivity to gluten, the mechanism of which appears to be distinct from that in Celiac disease,” wrote the authors in their conclusion. “The increased anti-gliadin antibody response and its association with GI symptoms points to a potential mechanism involving immunologic and/or intestinal permeability abnormalities in affected children.”

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