Which dietary modifications are used in the treatment of autism spectrum disorder (ASD)?

Updated: Sep 30, 2019
  • Author: James Robert Brasic, MD, MPH; Chief Editor: Caroly Pataki, MD  more...
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When compared with their typically developing (TD) peers, children with ASD are significantly more likely to experience GI problems and food allergies. According to one study, children with ASD were 6 to 8 times more likely to report frequent gas/bloating, constipation, diarrhea, and sensitivity to foods than TD children. Researchers also discovered a link between GI symptoms and maladaptive behavior in children with ASD. When these children had frequent GI symptoms, they showed worse irritability, social withdrawal, stereotypy, and hyperactivity scores compared with those without frequent symptoms. [155, 156]

Individuals with autistic disorder or a related condition need 3 well-balanced meals daily. Dietary consultation may be useful to evaluate the benefits of special diets, including those lacking gluten and casein. Vitamin B-6 and magnesium are among the vitamins and minerals hypothesized to help some patients. [157]

In a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, 3 months of treatment with a vitamin/mineral supplement produced statistically significant improvement in the nutritional and metabolic status of children with autism. In addition, the supplement group had significantly greater improvements than did the placebo group in its Parental Global Impressions-Revised (PGI-R) Average Change scores. [158]

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