Parents are right again! Scientific proof at last showing the GFCF diet works!

Remember how all those studies came out a few years ago telling us that the diet did not help/cure autism. Parents were imagining this as the studies showed that diet had no effect.  The gut has nothing to do with the brain.  Studies on well children prescreened to make sure that they had no bowel issues were administered the diet and wonders of wonders the diet did nothing for autism in children with no bowel issues. Well lately things are looking up for parents.  So after years of being patronized by physicians and the scientific community, it is now being shown that the parents may not be crazy after all. Here are a few of the more recent articles to come out.

Nutr Neurosci. 2010 Apr;13(2):87-100.

The ScanBrit randomised, controlled, single-blind study of a gluten- and casein-free dietary intervention for children with autism spectrum disorders.

Whiteley PHaracopos DKnivsberg AMReichelt KLParlar SJacobsen JSeim APedersen LSchondel MShattock P.


Dept of Pharmacy, Health & Well-being, Faculty of Applied Sciences, University of Sunderland, UK.


There is increasing interest in the use of gluten- and casein-free diets for children with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs). We report results from a two-stage, 24-month, randomised, controlled trial incorporating an adaptive ‘catch-up’ design and interim analysis. Stage 1 of the trial saw 72 Danish children (aged 4 years to 10 years 11 months) assigned to diet (A) or non-diet (B) groups by stratified randomisation. Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule (ADOS) and the Gilliam Autism Rating Scale (GARS) were used to assess core autism behaviours, Vineland Adaptive Behaviour Scales (VABS) to ascertain developmental level, and Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder – IV scale (ADHD-IV) to determine inattention and hyperactivity. Participants were tested at baseline, 8, and 12 months. Based on per protocol repeated measures analysis, data for 26 diet children and 29 controls were available at 12 months. At this point, there was a significant improvement to mean diet group scores (time*treatment interaction) on sub-domains of ADOS, GARS and ADHD-IV measures. Surpassing of predefined statistical thresholds as evidence of improvement in group A at 12 months sanctioned the re-assignment of group B participants to active dietary treatment. Stage 2 data for 18 group A and 17 group B participants were available at 24 months. Multiple scenario analysis based on inter- and intra-group comparisons showed some evidence of sustained clinical group improvements although possibly indicative of a plateau effect for intervention. Our results suggest that dietary intervention may positively affect developmental outcome for some children diagnosed with ASD. In the absence of a placebo condition to the current investigation, we are, however, unable to disqualify potential effects derived from intervention outside of dietary changes. Further studies are required to ascertain potential best- and non-responders to intervention. The study was registered with, number NCT00614198.

PMID: 20406576

Notice there is increasing interest. For years parents have said… but only now is there increasing interest.  Also the cover your butt conclusion “unable to disqualify potential effects”.  So are there any other studies out there? it appears so. More and more studies are coming out showing that the GFCF diet does have a scientific reason for the reduction in symptoms.

J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr. 2010 Oct;51(4):418-24.

Alterations of the intestinal barrier in patients with autism spectrum disorders and in their first-degree relatives.
de Magistris LFamiliari VPascotto ASapone AFrolli AIardino PCarteni MDe Rosa MFrancavilla RRiegler GMiliterni RBravaccio C.

Department Magrassi-Lanzara, Gastroenterology, Second University of Naples, Italy.


Intestinal permeability (IPT) was investigated in patients with autism as well as in their first-degree relatives to investigate leaky gut hypothesis. Faecal calprotectin (FC) was also measured in patients with autism, either with or without gastrointestinal symptoms, and in their first-degree relatives.

IPT results, assessed by means of the lactulose/mannitol test, were compared with adult and child controls and with FC values.

A high percentage of abnormal IPT values were found among patients with autism (36.7%) and their relatives (21.2%) compared with normal subjects (4.8%). Patients with autism on a reported gluten-casein-free diet had significantly lower IPT values compared with those who were on an unrestricted diet and controls. Gastrointestinal symptoms were present in 46.7% of children with autism: constipation (45.5%), diarrhoea (34.1%), and others (alternating diarrhoea/constipation, abdominal pain, etc: 15.9%). FC was elevated in 24.4% of patients with autism and in 11.6% of their relatives; it was not, however, correlated with abnormal IPT values.
The results obtained support the leaky gut hypothesis and indicate that measuring IPT could help to identify a subgroup of patients with autism who could benefit from a gluten-free diet. The IPT alterations found in first-degree relatives suggest the presence of an intestinal (tight-junction linked) hereditary factor in the families of subjects with autism.

PMID: 20683204

There are more but this one is one of my favorites.

Ann Clin Psychiatry. 2009 Oct-Dec;21(4):205-11.
The possibility and probability of a gut-to-brain connection in autism.
Reichelt KLKnivsberg AM.
Department of Pediatric Research, Rikshospitalet Medical Centre, University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway.
We have shown that urine peptide increase is found in autism, and that some of these peptides have a dietary origin. To be explanatory for the disease process, a dietary effect on the brain must be shown to be possible and probable.
Diagnosis was based on DSM-III and DSM-IV criteria. We ran first morning urine samples equivalent to 250 nm creatinine on high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) reversed phase C18 columns using trifluoroacetic acid acetonitrile gradients. The elution patterns were registered using 215 nm absorption for largely peptide bonds, 280 nm for aromatic groups, and 325 nm for indolyl components. We referred to a series of published ability tests, including Raven’s Progressive Matrices and the Illinois Test of Psycholinguistic Ability, which were administered before and after dietary intervention. The literature was also reviewed to find evidence of a gut-to-brain connection.
In autistic syndromes, we can show marked increases in UV 215-absorbing material eluting after hippuric acid that are mostly peptides. We also show highly significant decreases after introducing a gluten- and casein-free diet with a duration of more than 1 year. We refer to previously published studies showing improvement in children on this diet who were followed for 4 years and a pairwise matched, randomly assigned study with highly significant changes. The literature shows abundant data pointing to the importance of a gut-to-brain connection.
An effect of diet on excreted compounds and behavior has been found. A gut-to-brain axis is both possible and probable.

PMID: 19917211

The gut and diet CAN influence the brain!   Shocking I know. Such a recent discovery except for the part of disregarding parental testimonies for 15 years or so. Maybe in the future, science will pay attention to parents and try to design studies that look for the why parents are seeing something rather than looking for the why a treatment could  not  work.



  • Gloria

    I am very glad I came across this article and all the info in it! My son was diagnosed with ADHD, anxiety and mild depression. This way of eating has done WONDERS in managing his ADHD without medication. We tried many supplements and some had very good results and others didn’t. But this diet is what pulled it all together. I had no help from the medical community in this journey, just the help from mommy blogs and other bits of infro here and there on the web.. So I decided to start my own blog in hopes a mom, like me, will read it and get inspired to try it!! Here is a link if anyone is interested in reading about our journey.

  • Benison O’Reilly

    Hmm, I am a medical writer and have studied clinical epidemiology, as well as being the parent of a child with autism. There are many, many flaws with the research; so many in fact that they call into question the conclusions. Most importantly that there were a huge number of dropouts in the treatment group (29%) including dropouts who dropped out due to lack of efficacy! If data from the dropouts had been included in the analyses – as is the case with the most rigorous studies – the positive results could well have disappeared. Not surprised it was published in such an obscure journal.