Thursday, June 05, 2008

Autism and a Possible Dietary Link

Parents with autistic children are always looking for something to link a change that causes autism.  The thing is, there isn't a single cause that is yet discovered or understood.  We don't know what causes autism, because we don't know really what autism is beyond a behavior disorder.  But, there is some evidence that a change in diet can increase the chance of autistic children to alter their behavior. 

The evidence I am referring to is potential link to food allergies and autistic behavior.  It's been documented at  It seems that there is a possible reaction to gluten and casein that can cause autistic behavior.  It's because the body produces an opiate that causes a reduction in attention, eye contact, and overall speech.  

Now, the research on this is pretty mixed, as it has been fairly new to the clinical focus.  Many trials done came up with little statistically significant results, while some found some real results.  

The department of Pediatrics at the University of Maryland School of Medicine did a study on the effects of Peptoids on autistic children that exhibited gastrointestinal problems.  These problems include vomiting, stomach aches, and diarrhea.   

The findings were promising, in that eye contact and verbal communication increased.  While it is not a "smoking gun" for autism, it is something to focus on for parents when they go to their doctor.  

Now, I want to make it perfectly clear that removing gluten and casein is not the end all beat all for autistic children.  Several other clinical studies did not find a link, and in fact found no statistically significant results.  But there is a potential link, and it gives some hope.  

The first thing to do is to talk to the doctor.  We are going to take out son in and talk to him about the research done, see what he thinks, and go from there.  Next, check to see if my boy has an allergy or sensitivity to gluten and/or casein.  If so, then the next thing is to obviously remove them from his diet.  It isn't going to be easy, he loves his cottage cheese.

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