Authors: Seung H, Rogalski Y, Shankar M, Elder J
Title: The gluten- and casein-free diet and autism: communication outcomes from a preliminary double-blind clinical trial
Source: Journal of Medical Speech Language Pathology 2007 15(4): 337-345
Year: 2007
Research Design: Randomised Controlled Trial
Rating Score: 07/10
This rating is confirmed
Eligibility specified - Y
Random allocation - Y
Concealed allocation - N
Baseline comparability - Y
Blind subjects - Y
Blind therapists - N
Blind assessors - Y
Adequate follow-up - Y
Intention-to-treat analysis - N
Between-group comparisons - Y
Point estimates and variability - Y

This study retrospectively examined the efficacy of a gluten-free and casein-free (GFCF) diet intervention as a means to improve verbal/nonverbal communication in children with autism spectrum disorders. Data were analyzed retrospectively from a randomized, double-blind, repeated measures crossover design study that included 13 children aged 2-16 years with autism spectrum disorders. Video recordings of at-home parent-child play were analyzed. Recordings were made at baseline, after 6 weeks on one of the diets (GFCF or regular diet), and after 6 weeks on the alternate diet. Findings of the current study indicated no statistically significant differences in verbal and nonverbal communication outcomes between GFCF and regular diet conditions. While results of this study demonstrate that double-blind clinical trials of diet intervention are feasible, they are inconclusive regarding the efficacy of diet for improving communication, perhaps due to the relatively short period of diet intervention used. Directions for future research are discussed as well as implications for clinical practice.

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