For several years, a growing group of parents of children with autism have argued that a change in diet changed their child’s behavior. They eliminated gluten and casein from all meals. Some reported immediate results — better behavior, better sleep, improved bowel patterns.
Celebrity mom Jenny McCarthy even claimed diet changes helped her son “recover” from autism (she’s not claiming a cure, just a change).
Researchers trying to confirm whether there’s a link between diet and autism have had a difficult time studying it and most research has been inconclusive. A new study out Wednesday, the most rigorously conducted trial so far, found no connection.
The University of Rochester Medical Center study tested only 14 kids with autism, according to the LA Times Booster Shots blog. Each child was put on a gluten- and casein-free diet and randomized after four weeks to receive either milk, wheat, both or neither. The ingredients were disguised in the food and neither parents or researchers knew who got what.
They found no changes in any of the negative behavioral symptoms of autism.
But researchers said there might be some benefit to some autistic children who also have gastrointestinal issues, though the study didn’t test for that. They acknowledged that the study was small and wouldn’t rule out the possibility that diet changes could possibly help some children.