What RDs and Other Professionals Advise about Working with Families with Autism


  
  This page contains several Peer-Reviewed Articles to provide more evidence on the current research about the  GFCF diet and other issues.  It is not meant to be a comprehensive collection of the research base available.


Position of the American Dietetic Association: Providing Nutrition Services for Infants, Children, and adults with Developmental Disabilities and Special Health Care Needs


Marcason W. J Am Diet Assoc. 2009 Mar;109(3):572.What is the current status of research concerning use of a gluten-free, casein-free diet for children diagnosed with autism?
Key Points: 
    •  Widespread use of complementary and alternative medicine including supplements and gluten and casein free diet (GFCF).
    •  Drawbacks to GFCF diets: difficult for parents to follow, extra costs, extra time for preparation, risk of nutritional inadequacies, especially in children who self-restrict diets
    •       “….at this time more research is needed” – two studies underway
    • Implications: “nutrition professionals have an important role to play in ensuring the health and safety of autistic children whose families have chosen to pursue dietary approaches…….it’s important to urge families to regularly evaluate the pros and cons of all dietary approaches to treatment.

 
Elder JH. The gluten-free, casein-free diet in autism: an overview with clinical implications. Nutr Clin Pract. 2008 Dec-2009 Jan;23(6):583-8
 The prevalence of classic autism and autism spectrum disorder (ASD) appears to be on the rise, and to date, there remains no clear etiology or cure. Out of desperation, many families are turning to new therapies and interventions discovered through various media sources and anecdotal reports from other parents. Unfortunately, many of these newer, well-publicized interventions have little empirical support. One of the most popular yet currently scientifically unproven interventions for ASD is the gluten-free, casein-free (GFCF) diet. Clinicians working with families of individuals with ASD are often asked for advice and find themselves unable to offer the most up-to-date and scientifically credible information. This article provides an overview of ASD and the GFCF diet, a summary and critique of current research findings, recommendations for future research, and practical advice for families to use in deciding if a trial of the GFCF diet is in the best interest of their child and family.
 
 
Registered Dietitians’ Insights in Treating Autistic Children.  J Am Diet Assoc. 2007;107:727-730.
Interviews with two RDs who work with families. Key points:
    • RE supplements: “Some therapies don’t have good documentation but seem to be beneficial.  I establish that I am an expert in sorting through nutrition therapies, and that is why they are paying me.”  “ I encourage them to take a good look at the cost….”
    •   “Remind everyone that this is a marathon, not a print.  Is this something you can mange long term and, if not, do you see a time when this treatment will be able to be discontinued….how will you handle emergencies when mom or whoever is managing the diet is unavailable…when your child is an adult?
    •   “Much of the research is anecdotal, that that doesn’t mean any of these treatments won’t yield improvements. ….I encourage parents to look at both sets of research both peer-reviewed and anecdotal and make up their own minds.