Because of spam, I personally moderate all comments left on my blog. However, because of health issues, I will not be able to do so in the future.

If you have a personal question about LI or any related topic you can send me an email at I will try to respond.

Otherwise, this blog is now a legacy site, meaning that I am not updating it any longer. The basic information about LI is still sound. However, product information and weblinks may be out of date.

In addition, my old website, Planet Lactose, has been taken down because of the age of the information. Unfortunately, that means links to the site on this blog will no longer work.

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Monday, February 04, 2008

Don't Neglect Calcium on GFCF Diet

Many parents of autistic children have tried removing the wheat protein gluten and the dairy protein casein from their food, known as the GFCF (gluten-free, casein-free) Diet. Whether the positive results are anecdotal, real, or false hopes are not yet known, as I wrote about in Gluten-Free, Casein-Free Diet for Autistic Children Still Controversial. The results of a major five-year study on the GFCF Diet should be out later this year.

In the meantime, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has also been conducting a major study, along with the Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center. A preliminary finding is so serious that the NIH announced early results even before the full study is released. Thin Bones Seen In Boys with Autism and Autism Spectrum Disorder.

The researchers believe that boys with autism and ASD are at risk for poor bone development for a number of reasons. These factors are lack of exercise, a reluctance to eat a varied diet, lack of vitamin D, digestive problems, and diets that exclude casein, a protein found in milk and milk products. Dairy products provide a significant source of calcium and vitamin D. Casein-free diets are a controversial treatment thought by some to lessen the symptoms of autism. ...

"Our results suggest that children with autism and autism spectrum disorder may be at risk for calcium and vitamin D deficiencies," Dr. Hediger said. "Parents of these children may wish to include a dietitian in their children's health care team, to ensure that they receive a balanced diet."

It's important to note that only nine boys were part of this study. Too few girls have autism to provide any good candidates for it.

Parents of children with autism know that their children are often picky eaters at the best of times, so getting them to eat calcium-rich foods that don't contain dairy may be a continuing issue. Digestive problems also are common in autistic children and that may play a role in the non-absorption of calcium.
The researchers do not know for certain why the boys had thinner than normal bones. A possible explanation is lack of calcium and vitamin D in their diets. Dr. Hediger explained that a deficiency of these important nutrients in the boys' diets could result from a variety of causes. Many children with autism, she said, have aversions to certain foods. Some will insist on eating the same foods nearly every day, to the exclusion of other foods. So while they may consume enough calories to meet their needs — or even more calories than they need — they may lack certain nutrients, like calcium and vitamin D.

Other children with autism may have digestive problems which interfere with the absorption of nutrients. Moreover, many children with autism remain indoors because they require supervision during outdoor activity. Lack of exercise hinders proper bone development, she said. Similarly, if children remain indoors and are not exposed to sunlight, they may not make enough vitamin D, which is needed to process calcium into bones.

Parents should not simply remove foods from a child's diet without working with a physician, nutritionist, or dietitian to ensure that the remaining foods give a full spectrum of all essential nutrients.

General information about autism may be found on the site of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.

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1 comment:

n/a said...

I don't think it's about parents removing an item from a child's diet; I don't think cows' milk belongs in any humans' diet to begin long as a human eats varied foods, including green leafy vegetables, just like most other herbivorous animals, they will have strong bones, especially with regular exercise. And it's not that hard to get a child to go outside to play in the sun so they can produce some vitamin D, is it? Am I missing something?