Question: Is the gluten- and casein-free diet effective in suppressing autism symptoms?
Answer: There's been a lot of interest in gluten and casein-free diets recently and the short answer is we really don't know how well they work yet. The thought is that gluten, which is a protein contained in wheat and other grains, and casein, which is a protein contained in dairy products, are abnormally absorbed and digested in individuals with autism. And one of the byproducts of this abnormal absorption and digestion is substances which resemble opiates, which are things like painkillers, which then lead to numbing, withdrawal, uninterest in the environment.
So the thought is if you remove these substances, then gradually you would see improvement in these areas. There are several large studies underway right now to examine the efficacy of these diets and we don't know the results of those studies yet. But if you are considering a dietary restriction for yourself, a loved one, please be aware that these diets can be extremely expensive and are very difficult to maintain.