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Research Linking Food Allergies and Autism

Autism is a disorder that can affect a child’s brain development. It can disrupt social skills, communication skills and create behavioral problems. It may be genetic, but it can also be triggered by environmental factors.

Allergies are miserable but did you know that they may lead to autism? Recent studies have linked food allergies to autism. Food allergies that cause autism can sometimes be undiagnosed; the diagnosis is not easy to test. Sadly, many of today’s physicians are still under the impression that you have to get a skin test for food allergies, but food allergy testing takes time, trial and error in order to be diagnosed. Anyone who suffers from food allergy will know the misery of adding or deleting one item of food to or from your weekly diet, keeping a chart for your doctor and trying to tame the taste buds while dealing with this horror.

Many psychiatric symptoms can be the result of food allergy or result from additives and preservatives that are in foods. If your child’s autism is linked to a food allergy; he or she may experience less or no symptoms, once the trigger food is removed from his diet for a week or two.

Recently, the Cochrane study found a link between gluten and casein and autism. Gluten is found in nearly everything that is processed, in flour, wheat, breads, breading, kosher foods, piazza, noodles and pastas, boxed foods and cereals and in many other foods. Casein is the white ingredient in dairy cow milk, which is also an ingredient in white glue that makes it bind to other materials.

The findings of the Cochrane study was based on the following idea: “It has been suggested that peptides from gluten and casein may have a role in the origins of autism and that the physiology and psychology of autism might be explained by excessive opioid activity linked to these peptides.”

In randomized, controlled trials that involved including both, gluten and casein, from diets of those who were diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. The final analysis: “Research has shown of high rates of use of complementary and alternative therapies (CAM) for children with autism including gluten and/or casein exclusion diets. Current evidence for efficacy of these diets is poor. Large scale, good quality randomized controlled trials are needed.” Only one group of children in the studies, who were fed a gluten-free, casein-free diet, displayed an improvement in their autism behavior.

Other studies imply that autistic children may respond to specific foods, especially gluten and those containing casein. It’s possible that these foods can produce more inflammatory cytokines.

Blood from autistic children, cultured with varying foods, in a laboratory setting showed that cytokines from the autistic children were higher than those of non-autistic children, after exposure to the gluten or casein.

If you have a child who is exhibiting autistic symptoms, you may want to change his diet, eliminating gluten and casein. Gluten-free, Casein-free (GFCF) diets can be found online and you will have to do a lot of food preparation, but it just may mean that you’ll end up with a well-behaved, calmer child.

Researchers have also found indications that some individuals show immune response to gliadin, one of the proteins in wheat. A study at “Harvard University”, discovered that about half of the autistic participants studied had some kind of food allergies or intestinal problem

While many believe that the immune system changes experience by pregnancy can place a child at risk of autism, as can autoimmune diseases like diabetes. It was also found that allergic rhinitis, asthma and psoriasis can result in the birth of an autistic child. The cytokines may contribute to the symptoms of autism in children already genetically predisposed to the disease.

There may be other allergies that cause autism and further research is being done to find them. Until we know for certain, you should try to find out if your child has food allergies or not.

Many holistic and integrative physicians can help you with diet and treatment if you do find that your child suffers from food allergies that may be causing his or her autism. Find out all that you can; your child is too precious to suffer the misery of autism.