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Thursday, May 20, 2010

GFCF Diet Does Not Help Autistic Children

Next year is finally here. It's hard to believe that it was all back in 2007 that I wrote:

Researchers at the University of Rochester are in the middle of a five-year study on the GFCF diet. Results are expected to be announced next year.

The study results were finally announced. The headline from the UofR's press release is not encouraging, Popular Autism Diet Does Not Demonstrate Behavioral Improvement: Tightly controlled study saw no benefits for sleep, attention and bowel function

This is not the long-term wide-ranging study that was expected. These results are based on a small sample of only 14 children, whose diet was changed for only 18 weeks. Specifically, they were put onto a strict gluten-free, casein-free (GFCF) diet. After a month of complete avoidance, once a week they were given a snack that contained wheat or dairy or neither on a random basis. Their behavior was carefully scrutinized both the days before and after the snack to try to determine whether adding these supposed risk factors to their diets changed anything. They did not. They "had no change in attention, activity, sleep or frequency or quality of bowel habits."

As usual, the scientists involved were cautious in their conclusions.
"It would have been wonderful for children with autism and their families if we found that the GFCF diet could really help, but this small study didn't show significant benefits," said Susan Hyman, M.D., associate professor of Pediatrics at Golisano Children's Hospital at the University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC) and principal investigator of the study which will be presented Saturday (May 22) at the International Meeting for Autism Research in Philadelphia. "However, the study didn't include children with significant gastrointestinal disease. It's possible those children and other specific groups might see a benefit."

Belief in the GFCF diet is essentially a religious belief at this point. If it "helps," it's because you see the results that you want to see, read into it the cure that you want to happen. There is no scientific or medical backing for such a belief. That may change in the future with a larger and deeper study. Certainly the researchers would have loved to announce a positive result. They couldn't.

Can we please stop giving any credence to Jenny McCarthy about anything that comes out of her mouth? She hurts children rather than helps them. Nonsense is not healthy for anybody. As I've said before, stupidity kills. Let's act from wisdom instead.

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