Can Nutrition Play a Role in Treating Autism?

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Research shows the disorder is really beginning in the first and second trimester. So it's not a question of a child's nutrition that's leading to autism. So the issue really has to do with, can different diets improve the way a child with autism feels and how they interact and perhaps how they develop, there is not good evidence.

When careful studies are performed, that nutritional factors play a major role. On the other hand, you'll have parents say, my child did seem to feel better, did seem to be more comfortable and didn't seem to be as irritable when he was on this or that or the other diet. It's never a good idea to discount what a mom is saying about her particular child.

And that's not to say that her experience is, speaks to all parents and is not to say that research speaks to every single child. So we have to respect that individual parents understand their child perhaps better than we might as doctors or treatment providers. On the other hand it's quite true that careful studies show that for instance gluten-free diets don't have a big impact on IQ or performance or other measures that have been taken in kids in formal studies but that doesn't mean that it might not for some individuals.