Impact Of Gluten-Free Diet On Children With Autism

MIAMI (CBS4) – April 1st kicks off Autism Awareness month.

Twelve years ago Hilda Mitrani was devastated after learning her 4 year-old son David had been diagnosed with autism; a developmental disorder which affects the brain’s normal development of social and communication skills.

“There’s a lot of worry and a lot of sadness, thinking they’ve got something you don’t know how to treat,” said Mitrani.

Refusing to sit back and feel helpless Mitrani said she got to work on finding ways to her son’s life easier and help him deal with the disorder. One item that she found on the internet caught her eye because it dealt with nutrition.

“Some parents were beginning to report all around the country, some success with the behaviors that their kids were doing after trying a gluten-free diet,” said Mitrani.

A gluten-free diet basically means eliminating wheat, rye, oats and beans or foods that are high in gluten. Mitrani said she noticed a change within a couple weeks.

“He started being calmer, he started sitting down and eating a whole meal instead of jumping all around,” said Mitrani.

Sitting down in his school cafeteria with his lunch from home, David told CBS 4’s Jawan Strader he tries to not eat anything with gluten because of what he fears will happen.

“It might get us sick,” David said.

Registered Dietician at the Miller School of Medicine Sheah Rarback said there’s no scientific evidence backing the gluten-free diet against autism, but that doesn’t mean it’s not effective.

“The research is not strong in proving the benefits of this diet, but there are many parents who say that it’s helped their child and it’s up to the parent to get all their information and make their decision,” said Rarback.

If parents decide to put their children on a gluten-free diet, Rarback said it’s important to consult with their pediatrician first.

For more information on adapting to a gluten-free diet, check out the blog of another South Florida mother who has embraced the diet.

  • Phyliss J. Myers

    Our bodies were never designed to eat anything with gluten. We are hunters and gatherers. We should be eating only things in their natural form not what man has invented. If we ate cleaner diets we would be a healthier society.

  • Michelle Wiseman Kredi

    I need to correct your statement about what gluten is. Gluten is: Wheat, Barley, Rye, Oat, and Malt. NOT BEANS.

    Thank you,
    Michelle Wiseman Kredi
    Kid’s Korner
    Celiac Disease Foundation South Florida Chapter

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