The Huck Institutes of the Life Sciences

Gluten- and casein-free diet may help some children with autism

A research team led by Laura Klein has found a potential link between behavioral and physiological symptoms of autism spectrum disorders and gastrointestinal and immune responses to gluten- and casein-derived peptides.
 
Crackers and cheese — common dietary sources of gluten (found in wheat and related grains) and casein (found in dairy products). Photograph by Jon Sullivan [Public Domain], via Wikimedia Commons.

Crackers and cheese — common dietary sources of gluten (found in wheat and related grains) and casein (found in dairy products). Photograph by Jon Sullivan [Public Domain], via Wikimedia Commons.

By: Seth Palmer

 

Gastrointestinal (GI) and immune (i.e. allergy) symptoms often accompany autism spectrum disorders (ASD), and it has been suggested that gluten- and casein-derived peptides may trigger immune response, GI symptoms and behavioral problems in children with ASD.

 

The team found that a gluten- and casein-free diet was more effective in improving ASD behaviors, physiological symptoms and social behaviors in children with GI and allergy symptoms than in children without such symptoms.

 

They also found that greater success was reported by those who implemented the diet for more than six months.

 

Notably, the study is the first to use survey data from parents to document the effectiveness of a gluten- and casein-free diet in children with autism spectrum disorders.

 

 

More about Dr. Klein

Laura Klein is a faculty member of the Huck Institutes' Center for Behavioral Neuroscience in the Institute of the Neurosciences.

Publication details

Published:
2012
Author(s):
  • Pennesi CM
  • Klein LC
Title:
Effectiveness of the gluten-free, casein-free diet for children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder: Based on parental report.
Journal:
Nutritional Neuroscience 15(2): 85-91
doi:
10.1179/1476830512Y.0000000003