Autism and Food Allergies

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Autism and Food Allergies

In commemoration of the National Autism Awareness Month, researchers around the world are working hard to find causes and treatments for children with autism spectral disorder (ASD).

In fact, recent studies have shown that there is a link between autism and food allergy in children. A research team based in the University of Iowa’s College of Public Health conducted a research that involved 199,520 children ranging from ages 3 to 17 years old.

The research was led by Guifeng Xu, a member of the Epidemiology department who was also involved in the development of the University of Iowa’s “Baby Steps” app, which helps parents monitor the progress of their babies.

Guifeng worked with the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) and collected data from their archives dating from 1997 to 2016 on children with autism spectral disorder.

The team said that autism spectral disorder is often caused by genetic and environmental risk factors with 40% to 50% of the difference in the ASD liability could be tacked on environmental risk factors.

Finding the link between food allergy and ASD

In order to find the link between food allergy and children with autism the research team checked NHIS’ database and looked for kids with ASD who also had digestive allergy, respiratory allergy and/or skin allergy or any other allergies in kids.

What they found was that out of 1868 children with ASD, who were mostly boys, they were more likely to have a food allergy as compared to having a respiratory or skin allergy.

Though their findings may have discovered a new link between autism and other environmental factors further research is necessary to find out what the real connection is between food allergies and ASD. But scientists are saying that their theory on food being a key factor in the neurological process of children could provide the insight they are searching for.

According to some scientists food allergy may trigger changes in the gut microbiome that will then impair brain functions through neuroimmune interactions. And that could lead to abnormalities in the neurodevelopment of children, which could then lead to ASD.

Still, scientists are quick to remind people that further exploration of this phenomenon is needed before they can fully link ASD to food allergies.

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