Mom's medical history may affect autism risk

July 6, 2009 2:33:18 PM PDT
Children of mothers who have autoimmune diseases such as diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis and even celiac disease, have up to 3 times greater risk for autism. Past studies have shown a connection with autoimmune diseases and autism, but researchers say this is the first one to find a link between autism and celiac disease.

One theory is that babies born underweight or premature are at a greater risk of autism and both problems are associated with celiac disease.

People with celiac disease cannot eat gluten, which is found in wheat, rye ad barley.

Scientists say the findings could guide future research into pinning down the cause of autism.

The report appears in today's issue of Pediatrics.