February 5, A study by researchers from the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Granada UGR has analyzed the effects of a gluten-free diet and casein-free diet on the behavior of children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders. Given the limitations of attempts to treat such disorders, many families turn to alternative therapies. Among these, gluten- and casein-free diets implemented as a therapeutic approach in autism spectrum disorders have been the subject of significant interest and controversy in scholarly research. Some authors have found such diets to have favorable effects on the symptoms of autism, while others—particularly more recent studies—have found no conclusive results. Research conducted at the UGR reaffirms that gluten- and casein-free diets are not helpful as a standardised treatment for all children diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder. It may be that those cases with associated gastrointestinal disorders may benefit from such an approach. Beta-casomorphin is a peptide with morphine-like opioid activity, which is formed in the intestine due to abnormal digestion of cow’s milk protein casein. People with autism spectrum disorders may present an abnormal porosity in the intestinal barrier that enables beta-casomorphin to penetrate the barrier, enter the blood circulation, and from there, reach the central nervous system, producing a toxic effect. Some scientists who have identified peptiduria the abnormal presence of peptides in the urine in children with autism spectrum disorders have detected a reduction of these peptides in subjects who have followed the gluten- and casein-free diet.
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