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The Effects of Gluten and Casein in Children with Autism


Finding nutritious and safe foods your child will eat can be a common struggle. According to one study, 59% of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) experience digestive problems due to a compromised gut microbiome (1). Choosing a dietary intervention can be a powerful tool to manage symptoms and improve gastrointestinal health. In this blog post, we will be going over the effects of gluten and casein on autism.

The Effects of Gluten and Casein in Children with Autism | Biomedical Healing for Kids

What Are Gluten and Casein?

Gluten-free and casein-free (GFCF) diets are frequently mentioned in dietary intervention for autism. Gluten is a protein that is found in wheat, rye, and barley. A diet containing gluten can cause digestive discomforts like diarrhea,

The Effects of Gluten and Casein in Children with Autism | Biomedical Healing for Kids

flatulence, and bloating (2). Casein is a protein found in dairy products such as milk, yogurt, and cheese. Some autistic children may have difficulty digesting these food proteins, which can trigger the immune response, leading to inflammation and other negative effects on their gut health (3).

Studies show that these immune responses might play a role in the increasing symptoms associated with autism (4). In fact, several studies have discovered that a high percentage of children with ASD experience digestive problems, including leaky gut, which is potentially linked to sensitivities to gluten and casein (2). While the GCFC diet has proven to be effective for some children with autism, it is crucial to keep in mind that not every child will experience benefits from this method. Moreover, implementing the GFCF diet can be a challenge to the child’s dietary and eating habits (5).

Gluten in Corn

When it comes to dietary intervention for children with autism, it is important to take into account the potential impact of other foods that may be missed. An example of this is corn. Corn is frequently used as a substitute for gluten in gluten-free foods. However, some research suggests that corn can mimic gluten due to its protein structure, which can potentially pose a risk to kids who are sensitive to gluten (4). It is also important to note that the sensitivity levels to gluten and casein may differ among every child, and the effect of these proteins on autism symptoms can vary from one child to another (2).

It is essential to work with a qualified healthcare professional to determine which foods may be affecting a child's symptoms. This can involve conducting food sensitivity tests and keeping a food diary to track any changes in behavior or physical symptoms after consuming certain foods. Additionally, it is important to focus on providing a well-balanced and nutrient-dense diet that includes a variety of fruits, vegetables, protein sources, and healthy fats. This can not only support overall health and wellbeing but may also aid in reducing autism symptoms. Ultimately, the key is to approach dietary intervention for children with autism with a personalized and holistic mindset, taking into account each child's unique needs and sensitivities.


In summary, dietary intervention can be an effective tool for managing symptoms and improving overall health in children with ASD. However, it is important to understand the potential impact of gluten and casein, as well as other foods that may be overlooked.

In our next blog post, we will explore the concept of the elimination diet and how it can be used to identify potential food sensitivities and allergies in children with autism.


  • Adams JB, Johansen LJ, Powell LD, Quig D, Rubin RA. Gastrointestinal flora and gastrointestinal status in children with autism-- comparisons to typical children and correlation with autism severity. BMC Gastroenterol. 2011;11:22. Published 2011 Mar 16. doi:10.1186/1471-230X-11-22

  • Buie T, Campbell DB, Fuchs GJ 3rd, et al. Evaluation, diagnosis, and treatment of gastrointestinal disorders in individuals with ASDs: a consensus report. Pediatrics. 2010;125 Suppl 1:S1-S18. doi:10.1542/peds.2009-1878C

  • Whiteley P, Haracopos D, Knivsberg AM, et al. The ScanBrit randomized, controlled, single-blind study of a gluten- and casein-free dietary intervention for children with autism spectrum disorders. Nutr Neurosci. 2010;13(2):87-100. doi:10.1179/147683010X12611460763922

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