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Autistic Special Diets Debunked

autism-awarenessStrike another one against Jenny McCarthy: the special diet that the actress claims cured her son’s autism is nothing but a bunch of hooey. Or at least so say the researchers in this months issue of the Pediatrics.

The study completed by researchers at Harvard has been reported by the AP to refute the concept of “autistic enterocolitis,” one of the buzzwords for the pro-diet crowd (including McCarthy) that essentially means kid with autism have a special inflammatory bowl disease.

That’s not to say gastrointestinal illnesses don’t exist in autistic kids – this study goes hand in hand with a study published last year in Pediatrics that determined “data suggest that a neurobehavioral rather than a primary organic gastrointestinal etiology may account for the higher incidence of these gastrointestinal symptoms in children with autism.”

And that’s actually good news for parents with autistic kids – they’re getting some answers to why their kids have gastrointestinal issues and answers for how to  treat them. They’re also getting new marching orders.

McCarthy may be the best known adovacate of the practice, but she’s hardly the only one. Autism Speaks estimates sixteen percent of families are using special diets to attempt to treat their child’s autism. And though dietary approaches are listed as a treatment option on the CDC website, the CDC warns “many of these treatments do not have the scientific support needed for widespread recommendation. An unproven treatment might help one child, but may not help another.”

Image: blw photography via flickr

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