What is the connection between autism and food allergies?
American researchers found that there appears to be a link between food allergies and autism. Apparently, immunological disorders in early life affect the development of an autism spectrum disorder.
The University of Iowa scientists found in their current study a link between food allergies and autism. The doctors published the results of their study in the English-language journal "JAMA Network Open".
Do immunological disorders affect development?
In their research, the experts from the United States also found that around 11.25 percent of American children were diagnosed with a so-called autism spectrum disorder. It is quite possible that the immunological disorders that occur in the early years of life affect the development of social functions in humans, the researchers say. Although a possible link between food allergies and autism spectrum disorders has been found, many questions remain unanswered, the scientists add.
Data from almost 200,000 subjects were evaluated
For their current study, the researchers analyzed the health information of around 200,000 children. The participants were aged between three and 17 years. The data were collected between 1997 and 2016 as part of the so-called U.S. National Health Interview Survey compiled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Skin allergies and autism
The results of the study showed that children with an autism spectrum disorder suffered significantly more frequently from skin allergies compared to children without such a disease. The study contributes to the growing number of researches that have investigated and uncovered links between immunological problems and autism spectrum disorder. This statement could also apply to other types of allergic diseases with an autism spectrum disorder, explains study author Professor Wei Bao from the University of Iowa.
Which arises first?
For the time being, however, it remains unclear exactly how these symptoms interact with each other or whether and how other causes are involved. So it is not known which comes first, the food allergy or maybe the autism spectrum disorder, the researchers explain.
More research is needed
A future study that prospectively gathers data on the onset of food allergies and autism is now necessary to determine the temporal relationship between these two complaints, explains study author Professor Bao. Earlier studies had already shown that both diseases often have type 1 diabetes or maternal rheumatoid arthritis. Even if a mother has to deal with immunological problems during pregnancy, this seems to favor food allergy and autism, the scientists continue.
Did self-reported data falsify the results?
The results of the study are based on self-reported data that do not provide a long enough timeline to allow more accurate conclusions to be drawn. In some cases, the self-reported data on children with food allergies and autism may not be reliable because it can be difficult to distinguish between an allergic reaction and an abnormal behavior, which may be explained by another factor, the doctors explain. (as)