A new study may have completely put to rest the ongoing notion that a gluten-free diet is beneficial for autistic children. If parents of autistic children were led to believe that they must let their child have a gluten-free diet, then this study may have finally put the idea to rest.

Previous Beliefs

A number of websites and a doctor claimed that gluten leads to the worsening of symptoms among autistic children. Although this was not proven or was given any scientific study to back it up, many parents, in the hopes of finding a new treatment for their children’s condition, went for a gluten-free diet for their children. gluten-free diet offers no benefits to autistic children gluten-free diet offers no benefits to autistic children Photo: Nathan Legakis - Pixabay

One gastroenterologist, Andrew Wakefield, published a book, The Lancet, where he claimed that autism was caused by the condition called “leaky gut.” He explained that particles of vaccine would make their way out of the intestines and eventually into the brain. From this, it somehow transformed into the hypothesis that it is gluten that leaks out from the intestines. This then is the one that causes autism, according to Wakefield.

The series of events claimed by Wakefield on how autism develops was not supported by scientific evidence, which caused Wakefield to lose his license. Nevertheless, he still holds talks and advocates for parents not to have their kids vaccinated.

Scientific Study

A study published in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders revealed that a gluten-free diet does nothing for children with autism. The study was the first-ever controlled-study that sought to look at the link between autism in children and a gluten-free diet.

The researchers in the study were from the University of Warsaw, Poland. They studied 66 children, between 3 to 5 years old, half of them were given a gluten-free diet for six months, and the other half had normal diets, but one meal of the latter contained gluten. After the study period, the children were given tests that measure autistic behavior.

The results were clear. There was no difference between the two groups. They didn’t find the core symptoms of autism in the two. Hence, there was no evidence that would support the theory that avoiding gluten will manage symptoms of autism.