ARI Publication 40 – 2013 Version
Children who most crave dairy and/or wheat, and who eat a lot of it, are most likely to benefit.
Casein-free diets usually produce benefits within a month, and sometimes within a week. Gluten
free diets usually take 1-3 months to produce benefits. In some children there is a worsening of
symptoms for a few days (similar to a drug withdrawal) followed by improvement.
ARI Survey of Parent Ratings of Treatment Efficacy:
|% Worse||% No Change||% Better||Number of Reports|
|Gluten- and Casein-Free Diet||3%||28%||69%||3593|
Duration: At least until problems in the gut are addressed, and possibly lifelong.
Safety Note: It is important that a calcium-and-vitamin-D supplement be taken while on a
dairy-free diet unless a child has an exceptionally nutritious diet rich in calcium. (Vitamin D is
essential for calcium absorption from the gut).
A trial of the GFCF diet is the best test, as it is the only way to determine if the diet will
help a particular individual. At least one month of avoiding dairy and 3 months of avoiding
gluten is recommended.
Immediate-type food allergies to milk proteins and gluten can be detected by ELISA in the blood or
by prick skin testing, but the testing often yields false positive results, and does NOT test for
delayed-type food allergies.
In patients with celiac disease, IgA antibody against deaminated gliadin (wheat protein) and antiIgA antibody against tissue transglutaminate (autoantigen cross-reactive to deaminated gliadin) can
be detected in the blood.
Reichelt has conducted several studies that have found abnormal peptides in the urine of people
with autism, and he has conducted long-term treatment studies that found significant improvement
from a GF/CF diet. Cade found that long-term use of digestive enzymes was beneficial, but that the
GFCF diet was even more helpful.
Cade’s large study of 150 children with autism found that 87% had IgG antibodies (allergy) to
gluten, vs. 1 % of the age and gender-matched controls, and 90% had IgG antibodies to casein, vs.
7% of the controls. (Note that IgG testing may yield false positives, and is of limited validity, but
the difference between the two groups was striking). He also studied 70 autistic children who
followed a GFCF diet for 1-8 years, and found that 81% improved significantly by the third month,
with improvements continuing over the next 12 months. Large improvements were observed in
social isolation, eye contact, mutism, learning skills, hyperactivity, stereotypic activity, and panic
attacks. Among the 19% who did not improve, about 1/3 of them were not following the GFCF
diet, and had lots of gluten and casein peptides still in their blood.
Cade R, Privette Met al ”Autism and Schizophrenia: Intestinal Disorders” Nutr. Neurosci 3 (2000) 57-72.
Published by Overseas Publishers Association, (OPA) N. V.
Knivsberg AM, Reichelt KL, Nodland M. Reports on dietary intervention in autistic disorders.
Nutr Neurosci. 2001;4(1):25-37. Review.