ROCHESTER, N.Y., May 21 (UPI) -- A diet free of gluten and casein did not change behavior in children with autism, U.S. researchers said.
In addition, principal investigator Dr. Susan Hyman of the University of Rochester Medical Center in New York found having the children with autism eat a strictly controlled diet that ensured nutrients while eliminating gluten and casein proteins provided no benefits in the areas of sleep, attention or bowel function.
"It would have been wonderful for children with autism and their families if we found that the gluten-free, casein-free diet could really help, but this small study didn't show significant benefits," Hyman said in statement.
Hyman and colleagues enrolled 22 children ages 2-6. Fourteen completed the 18-week study.
After at least four weeks on the strict diet, the children were given snacks with either gluten, casein, both or placebo in randomized order. No one observing, including the research staff and therapy team, knew what the snacks -- carefully engineered to be similar looking -- contained.
Interventions such as behavioral treatment were controlled to ensure any observed changes were due to diet, Hyman said.