Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Gluten and casein-free diets for autism

A very quick post to bring to your attention a recently published paper which has just started to make an impact on various social media. The paper is by Pennesi and Cousino Klein* and reports on a survey of parent  responses on the efficacy of using a gluten- and casein-free diet with their children with autism. The press release accompanying the paper is here.

At the moment I don't have the full-text so can't really add more than what information is currently available and so will probably end up posting again about this paper. Yes, it is data based on an on-line survey; yes, it exclusively relies on parent - primary caregiver report and so yes it is not by any means gold-standard when it comes to methodological quality. I will perhaps apologise for the 'parent - primary caregiver' bit and the implication that somehow theirs is not an important voice. It is, and potential bias aside, certainly when you look at the history of GFCF diets and autism, it was parents who made the first observations about a possible effect, so I feel a bit of respect is due.

Perhaps carrying a degree of bias myself about such work (here), I'd like to think that there are things that can be learned from this study as there are in all studies; if only where to start channelling a little more research time and effort to further inform the science in this area.

* Pennesi CM. & Cousino  Klein L. Effectiveness of the gluten-free, casein-free diet for children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder: Based on parental report. Nutritional Neuroscience. February 2012.
DOI: 10.1179/1476830512Y.0000000003