Celiac disease associated with autism, restless legs syndrome

A study has found an increased risk for autism in children whose mothers have celiac disease.

Researchers had previously connected autoimmune diseases — type 1 diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis — with autism, according to HealthDay. However, this is the first report that links autism and celiac disease.

The risk for children developing autism is three times greater when their mothers have celiac disease, HealthDay reports.

This study seems to confirm that the immune system might play a role in autism. Although the mechanism is not understood, the story emphasized that autism is an inherited disease.

Another study, this one published in the journal Digestive Diseases and Sciences, examines the possibility that the gluten protein could spur Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS).

In the study, RLS symptoms improved in 50 percent of participants who for six months were on a gluten-free diet.

People with celiac disease cannot tolerate gluten, and therefore the study’s authors concluded it might be important to screen RLS patients for celiac disease.

Symptoms of celiac disease include diarrhea, weight loss, anemia, infertility, premature osteoporosis and other conditions.

Gluten is found in wheat, barley, rye and other grains. People with celiac disease must avoid these foods completely.

A digestive enzyme that focuses on breaking down the gluten protein is recommended with every meal or snack to protect against accidental gluten consumption.

From the Mayo Clinic, here are some key findings on celiac disease:

  • The disease is four times more common than 50 years ago
  • About 5 percent of those with celiac disease are aware they have it
  • It affects about one in 100 people
  • Death risk was increased fourfold in people with undiagnosed celiac disease
  • The rise in celiac disease could be associated with the “hygiene hypothesis,” which proposes that certain illnesses are a result of less exposure to germs than in the past

(SOURCE: WebMD)

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