Most of us already understand that gluten can have damaging consequences for people with celiac disease and other kinds of autoimmune disorders (ASD’s). But the question that keeps coming up over and over is whether gluten can interfere with the development of people who are non-celiac’s.
Recently there have been a number of researchers who have started examining the link between autism spectrum disorders and diet-which seem to have risen significantly over the last 20 years.
The centers for disease control and prevention say that ASP’s-which is the name given to a number of neurological and developmental disorders, which include Aspergers Syndrome, by this fact is many as one in 100 children born in North America. These are significant numbers and experts are still looking for answers as to why they are on the rise.
Everybody knows that nutrition has a direct impact on the development of children. What I am seeing and what the experts are seeing is a growing body of proof which suggests that removing gluten and casein [which is the protein in dairy products] from the diet of children with ASD’s can have a beneficial effect.
In fact there is a well known and diet specifically recommended for children with ASD’s, it is called the autism diet and it is a diet that is devoid of any gluten or casein. Also known as the GF CF diet.
Kids on this diet cannot eat any dairy products in addition to any wheat or gluten containing foods, as well as all of the other dairy foods such as milk, yogurt, ice cream, and cheese.
I have not been able to find any direct medical evidence which links celiac disease to autism. In fact all of the evidence that I have gathered is entirely anecdotal and is from speaking with other people, a handful of publications and with parents of children with autism. The only clear overlap that I’ve found as of this recording in the literature existed in two publications.
The first was the Journal of behavioral pediatrics which interviewed 50 children in New York that were autistic and found that 70% of them with ASD’s that gastrointestinal issues compared with 28% of the children with normal development. The other place I’ve found evidence to support the link between autism and gluten consumption is with Dr. Kenneth Bock, who is an internationally renowned expert on autism and author of the book Healing The New Childhood Epidemics.
According to his book he sees over 2000 children per year with ASD’s at his office in the Rhinebeck health Center in New York, and he believes that even though further investigation is still required, that children with ASD’s clearly have significant reactions to the consumption of gluten.
In addition many parents swear by the GF CF diet all citing tremendous improvements in their children’s development, behavior, and communication skills.
Dr. Bock points to a survey of over 25,000 parents of autistic children, and found that over 60% of them interviewed reported that gluten free, or casein free diet resulted in improvements in their children.
Dr. Bock also points to the response in the bloodstream of children with ASD’s who eat gluten to be kind of like morphine. Which means that the kids can act almost stoned-producing the usual stoner behaviors such as erratic behavior, poor language and social skills, and impulse control issues. He warns that parents need to be aware of the impact of removing gluten from the diet of a child with an ASD can create something of a withdrawal affect.
And he warns parents that this is a very real possibility to keep an eye out for during the first few days-not much different than when addicts detox. However he sees consistent evidence that after a few days of the detoxing, children with ASD’s start to make improvements-some of them quite dramatic. Many parents that I have spoken to said that children with autism are much calmer and had fewer behavior problems without gluten in their diets.
So if you have a child with autism I would recommend that you talk to your doctor about the GF CF diet.