There has been some discussion lately around gluten and autism with some controversial claims that gluten intolerance causes autism. So here at Fresh Perceptions Health, we decided to look at the facts and see is there a connection between autism and gluten.
In terms of autism there are no clear cut answers. No one cause has been identified, though different factors are often blamed from environmental toxins, to stress, to brain connections and so on. And the two double blind trials carried out to date have not been able to show a definitive link.
This has led many authorities to say there is no link between autism and gluten, but is that the full story?
Although the first double blind trial carried out in 2006 by Elder et al (Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, April 2006, Volume 36, Issue 3, pp 413-420), found no significant difference from a gluten free, casein free diet, some parents did report improvement in their children. Similarly in 2015 Pusponegro et al, in Acta Paediatrica found no significant results. Again though they reported behaviour was improved, though not significantly. So what is going on?
There is now a view that there are different forms of autism and not just a single form. This completely makes sense. We are all biochemically individual, and indeed, this approach is the basis of naturopathy. Put simply, this means that what might work for someone may not work for another.
The truth on gluten and autism may lie in research carried out in 2013 by Lau et al (Plos One, June, 2013). They found that a subset of children with autism displayed immune reactivity to gluten with gastrointestinal symptoms, possibly linked to intestinal permeability.
Similarly at an individual level parents have seen significant improvements in removing gluten, casein, processed foods and sugar from their child’s diet. In clinic I have seen improvements as a result of these changes in a matter of weeks. It isn’t a magic potion though and takes a lot of work on the part of the whole family. And it may not work for your child. But it is certainly worth a go and could yield results.
As naturopaths, Fresh Perceptions works with you to find natural treatments for autism. In addition to dietary changes, we may also recommend a supportive formula. The combination of these may help considerably.