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How Effective is a Gluten-free, Casein-free Diet for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder?
Jefferson Adams is a freelance writer living in San Francisco. His poems, essays and photographs have appeared in Antioch Review, Blue Mesa Review, CALIBAN, Hayden's Ferry Review, Huffington Post, the Mississippi Review, and Slate among others.
He is a member of both the National Writers Union, the International Federation of Journalists, and covers San Francisco Health News for Examiner.com.View all articles by Jefferson Adams
Celiac.com 04/11/2012 - Studies on the gluten-free and/or casein-free (GFCF) dietary intervention for children with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) suggest that some children may positively respond to implementation of the dietary intervention.
Other studies support the idea of using various factors, including gastrointestinal (GI) abnormalities and immune function to classify children diagnosed with ASDs
Medical researchers Christine M. Pennesi, and Laura Cousino recently examined the effectiveness of the gluten-free, casein-free diet for children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. They are affiliated with the Department of Biobehavioral Health at the Pennsylvania State University in Pennsylvania, USA.
For their study, Pennesi and Cousino presented a 90-question online survey to parents or primary caregivers of children diagnosed with ASD. The survey asked about the efficacy of the GFCF diet. The survey included questions about the children's GI symptoms, food allergy diagnoses, and suspected food sensitivities, as well as the degree and length of their dietary regime. In all, they received 387 responses.
Parents who reported GI symptoms, food allergy diagnoses, and suspected food sensitivities also reported greater improvement in ASD behaviors, physiological symptoms, and social behaviors, compared with parents who reported symptoms, diagnoses, or sensitivities in their children (P < 0.05).
Parents who reported strict diet adherence, full gluten/casein elimination and infrequent diet errors during and outside of parental care, also reported improvement in ASD behaviors, physiological symptoms, and social behaviors, compared with parents who reported less strict adherence, incomplete gluten/casein elimination, and more frequent diet errors during and outside of parental care (P < 0.05).
The full report appears in Nutritional Neuroscience. There, the authors write that findings suggest that diet adherence and GI and immune factors may help to differentiate diet responders from diet non-responders. They also suggest that the findings support the importance of further investigations into the various factors that influence efficacy of treatment in children with ASDs.
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