Gluten Free Diet in Autism Spectrum Disorders

The evidence to support GFCF (Gluten-free Casein-free) diets in treatment of children for ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorders) remains weak and inconclusive. However success is possible for a subset of children who have gastrointestinal problems (constipation, diarrhea, bloating) and food sensitivities. Here’s a quick summary from my review of two recent scientific papers:

–Children predisposed to GI problems might particularly benefit from a GFCF dietary intervention.

–Children with allergy symptoms also demonstrated improved ASD symptoms on GFCF diet.

–The better the compliance to the diet, the greater the improvement in symptoms.

–Drawbacks to the diet include: 1) nutritionally inadequate in calcium, phosphorus, vitamin D, magnesium and other minerals; 2) social stigmatization and difficulty in complying with the diet.

–Probiotics containing lactobacilli provide protection against infection in the gut and healthy immune function.

–Work closely with a Registered Dietitian to assess dietary adequacy and choose an appropriate vitamin and probiotic supplement.


Nutrition Research Reviews; 2014; doi:10.1017/S0954422414000110.

Pennesik CM, Klein LC. Effectiveness of the gluten-free, casein-free diet for children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder: based on parental report. Nutritional Neuroscience. 2012 15:85-91.

Mari-Bauset S, Zazpe I, Mari-Sanchis A, et al. Evidence of the gluten-free, casein-free diet in autism spectrum disorders: a systematic review. Journal of Child Neurology 2014, 1-10; doi: 10.1177/ 0883073814531330.