Reference Number: 638
Intolerance & Sensitivity: Coeliac
An expanding body of literature is examining connections between Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and dietary interventions. While a number of specialist diets have been suggested as beneficial in ASD, gluten has received particularly close attention as a potentially exacerbating factor. Reports exist suggesting a beneficial effect of the gluten-free diet (GFD) in ameliorating behavioural and intellectual problems associated with ASD, while epidemiological research has also shown a comorbidity between ASD and coeliac disease. However, both caregivers and clinicians have expressed an uncertainty of the value of people with ASD going gluten-free, and as the GFD otherwise receives considerable public attention a discussion which focuses specifically on the interaction between ASD and gluten is warranted. In this review we discuss the historical context of ASD and gluten-related studies, and expand this to include an overview of epidemiological links, hypotheses of shared pathological mechanisms, and ultimately the evidence around the use and adoption of the GFD in people with ASD.
Significance of the study:
This review highlights modest comorbidity between Autism Spectrum Disorder and Coeliac Disease. Moreover, after reviewing the existing research exploring a Gluten-Free diet in the treatment of ASD, the paper concludes that a negative effect of gluten ingestion in ASD has not been proved. In short, trials that have sought to demonstrate this are variable in their findings and suffer from issues with experimental design and execution which means that an overall interpretation cannot yet be made.