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Diet for Autism: What Works?

Parents Who Try Special Diets for Autism Should Be Supported, Even Though Evidence Conflicting, Experts Say

Children With Autism and Gut Problems

There may be a subgroup of children with autism spectrum disorder who do better with dietary intervention, says Timothy Buie, MD, an associate in pediatrics at the Massachusetts General Hospital, who also spoke at the meeting. He often sees children with autism who have gastrointestinal (GI) problems, such as acid reflux, in which stomach contents travel back up the esophagus.

Buie showed videos of three children with autism. They had repetitive behaviors such as repeated flailing.  After evaluation, he found all three had acid reflux. But none had clear symptoms of a GI problem, he says.

''Kids with autism who present with GI issues warrant a through evaluation," he says. "But I think it's not happening." As Stewart said, parents should involve health care providers to address such issues.

Parents who suspect a GI problem with their child with autism should ask for the last appointment of the day, he says, or the last appointment before lunch. That will help ensure enough time is given, Buie says.

Buie reports project support on a diet study from Nutricia Advanced Medical Nutrition, project support  from Autism Speaks and previous support from Newman's Own Foundation.

These studies were presented at a medical conference. The findings should be considered preliminary as they have not yet undergone the "peer review" process, in which outside experts scrutinize the data prior to publication in a medical journal.

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