The gluten-free/casein-free diet is based on the theory that children with autism may have an allergy or high sensitivity to certain foods. In particular, the theory targets foods that contain gluten and casein. Children with autism, according to the theory, process peptides and proteins in foods containing gluten and casein differently than other people do. Hypothetically, this difference in processing may exacerbate autistic symptoms. Some believe that the brain treats these proteins like false opiate-type chemicals. The reaction to these chemicals, they say, leads a child to act in a certain way.
Based on this theory, diets free of gluten and casein are given to children with autism. The intent is to reduce symptoms and improve social and cognitive behaviors and speech.
There may be some scientific merit to the reasoning behind a gluten-free/casein-free diet. Researchers have found abnormal levels of peptides in bodily fluids of some people who have symptoms of autism. Still, the effectiveness of a GFCF diet for autism has not been scientifically substantiated in randomized clinical trials. In fact, a review of recent and past studies concluded there is a lack of scientific evidence to say whether this diet can be helpful or not.
Unfortunately, eliminating all sources of gluten and casein is so hard that conducting randomized clinical trials in children may prove to be very difficult.
This answer should not be considered medical advice...This answer should not be considered medical advice and should not take the place of a doctor’s visit. Please see the bottom of the page for more information or visit our Terms and Conditions.
Thanks for your feedback.