Autoimmunity and Autism

Research appearing in the April, 2002 issue of the journal Molecular Psychiatry (volume 7, number 4, pages 375-382) studied autistic children who had a form of the disease characterized by apparently normal early development followed by regression in the second year of life. Previous studies have found evidence of immune issues in this group of autistic patients. Earlier research has shown that in this group of patients, bowel inflammation is often an issue [The Lancet (1998; 351: 637-641), American Journal of Gastroenterology (2000; 95: 2285-2295)]. In this study, the researchers found changes in the cells in the intestine of the autistic patients that suggest that the immune system is reacting against the intestinal cells. The authors made comparisons to children with mental retardation, cerebral palsy, celiac disease and normal controls, none of whom had these cellular changes.

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