Autism is an ever-increasing concern for new parents, as one in every 91 children in the United States is born with autism as of 2011. Although the ultimate causes of all of the various forms and grades of autism are not fully known, there have been many studies of how to best improve the lives of those children that do have autism. Who would have thought that what you feed your autistic child could have a great impact on their symptoms and functioning?
According to an article on ScienceDaily.com, researchers at Penn State have been studying gluten-free and casein-free diets in autistic children, and the improvements this new diet has made to their behavior and physiological symptoms. This study was based on the suggestions by experts that gluten and casein contain peptides that can potentially cause an immune response in children with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder), and thus trigger GI symptoms and behavioral problems.
The reason that gluten and casein were specifically targeted in this study is that they have been identified as the most immuno-reactive food components in children. Often, skin allergy tests will show no allergy to these proteins in children, but a local immune response in the gut can still occur, leading to increased behavior and physiological problems. Soy is another protein that may be researched in future studies.
According to one of the leaders of the study, Laura Klein, “There are strong connections between the immune system and the brain, which are mediated through multiple physiological symptoms.” Because a majority of the pain receptors in the body are located in the gut, avoiding casein and gluten can reduce inflammation, thus lessening discomfort and improving many ASD symptoms.
The study included a survey of 387 parents/primary caregivers of autistic children, and the questions they answered about symptoms, allergies, behaviors, and adherence to the diet showed elimination of both casein and gluten, for at least 6 months or more, was the most effective. This study shows that autism may be more than just neurological, and could open doors for new treatments, more important now than ever before due to the increasing number of children born with autism in recent years.
Source Article: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/02/120229105128.htm
Posted by Laura Moro (2)