Autism Patients Treated with Alternative Diets, Probiotics

Autism Patients Treated with Alternative Diets, Probiotics

Submitted by Deborah Mitchell on 2010-05-02

A significant number of young people who have autism are following
special, alternative diets and taking supplements such as probiotics
and digestive enzymes as part of their treatment programs, according
to a new study. The report is being presented on Sunday, May 2 at the
Pediatric Academic Societies annual meeting by the Autism Speaks’
Autism Treatment Network.

Autism is part of a group of disorders called autism spectrum
disorders (ASDs) that include autism (the most debilitating
condition), Asperger syndrome, and pervasive development disorder not
otherwise specified (PDD-NOS). According to the Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention, the prevalence of autism among 8-year-olds is
about 1 in 110. Autism and other ASDs typically develop in childhood
and are usually diagnosed by age three.

The Autism Speaks’ study found evaluated data from a large registry of
children with ASDs and their use of complementary alternative medicine
as part of their treatment regimen. They found that 201 of 1,212
children (17%) were on special diets, primarily a gluten-free, casein-
free diet (53%). Children with autism were more likely to be on a
special diet (19%), followed by those with PDD-NOS (14%) and
Asperger’s syndrome (7%).

The researchers also discovered that children who had gastrointestinal
problems, which is a common complication of autism, were more likely
than those who did not GI problems to use alternative approaches,
including glut-free and casein-free diets, use of digestive enzymes
and probiotics, and diets free of processed sugars.

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