Gluten and casein-free trials prove positive for ASD children

A trial led by Paul Whiteley and colleagues from the University of Sunderland (United Kingdom) tested thegluten-free, casein-free diet in two groups of children with autism spectrum disorders or ASDS.

In the stage one, 72 Danish children aged 4 to 12 years were given the strict diet (group A) or a control diet (group B) and evaluated at baseline, 8, and 12 months for their behaviors and developmental level, inattention and hyperactivity.

The children's behaviors were assessed using Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule (ADOS) and the Gilliam Autism Rating Scale (GARS). Their developmental level, inattention and hyperactivity were measured using Vineland Adaptive Behaviour Scales (VABS) and Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder - IV scale (ADHD-IV).

Data from 26 children in the dietary intervention group and 29 controls showed a significant improvement in the diet group on subdomains of ADOS, GARS and ADHD-IV measures.

Because of the observation, in the second stage, group B children were also assigned the gluten-free and casein-free diet and 18 children in Group A and 17 in Group B completed the intervention dietary program in another 12 months.

The trial results indicated that clinical improvements were sustainable although a plateau effect of the intervention was observed.

The researchers concluded that the gluten- and casein- free diet may have a positive impact on developmental outcome in children with autism. But more studies are needed to confirm the findings.

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First Published in June 2010

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