Nutritional and Dietary Interventions for Autism Spectrum Disorder – a Randomized, Controlled 12-Month Trial of a Combination of Six Treatments

Friday, May 15, 2015: 11:30 AM-1:30 PM
Imperial Ballroom (Grand America Hotel)
J. Adams, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ
Background:  Previous studies have suggested that several nutritional and dietary interventions may be helpful for individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).  

Objectives:  Determine the effect of a combination of six nutritional/dietary interventions on children and adults with ASD

Methods:  This study involved a randomized, controlled, single-blind 12-month treatment study of six nutritional and dietary treatments.  Participants were children and adults ages 3-60 years in Arizona with Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD), n=67.  Treatment began with a special vitamin/mineral supplement, and additional treatments were added sequentially, including essential fatty acids, Epsom salt baths, carnitine, digestive enzymes, and a healthy gluten-free, casein-free, soy-free (GFCFSF) diet.  Autism severity, related symptoms, and biomarkers were evaluated at the beginning and end of the study.  Some evaluations were done by clinicians (single-blind), some by parents (unblinded), and some involving a clinician interview of the parents (semi-blinded).  Biomarkers were compared with non-sibling, neurotypical controls (n=49) of similar age, gender and geographical area.


Results:  The treatments were generally well-tolerated with good compliance and few adverse effects.  There was a significant improvement in nonverbal intellectual ability in the treatment group compared to the non-treatment group (9 +/-12  vs. 1 +/-12 IQ points, p <0.05) based on a blinded clinical assessment.  The treatment group, compared to the untreated group, had significantly greater improvement on the Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scale (20 +/- 19 months vs.  5 +/- 19 months, p<0.05), and  a marginally significant greater improvement in the Childhood Autism Rating Scale (CARS) (-4.4 +/- 7 vs -1.6 +/- 5, p=0.09) and the Severity of Autism Scale (-0.9 +/-1 vs -.3 +/- 1, p=0.08), all based on semi-blinded assessment.  There were many other statistically significant improvements in autism and related symptoms in the treatment group compared to the non-treatment group, based on unblinded parent evaluations.

            Parents reported that the vitamin/mineral supplement and the essential fatty acids were the most beneficial, followed closely by the healthy GFCFSF diet, with the others being less beneficial.

Conclusions:  The positive results of this study suggest that certain nutritional and dietary interventions are effective at improving some symptoms in some individuals with ASD, with the vitamin/mineral supplement, essential fatty acids, and healthy GFCFSF diet reported by parents to be the most beneficial.