The Gluten Casein Free Diet in Children with Autism A Clinical Results of the Ophthalmic and Behavioral Manifestations



Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a heritable illness characterized by early-onset differences in interaction, communication, sensory atypicality, and stereotyped behaviors. Recent studies suggest a link between elimination diets and severity of autistic behaviors. The etiology of ASD has been still uncertain. Therefore, elucidating the underlying pathology may assist in risk assessment and facilitate process management. Non-harmful and existing evidence for the diet’s benefits in ASD must be elucidated.


Study Objective


To evaluate the efficacy of eight weeks of Gluten-Casein-Free (GFCF) diet in children with ASD on autistic symptoms and ophthalmic findings such as corneal reflex, interpupillary distance (IPD) and pupil size.




30 children with ASD were enrolled in an 8-weeks prospective GFCF diet treatment study. The study aimed to obtain more data on the behavioral symptoms and ophthalmic measurements of gluten-free casein-free (GFCF) on ASD. In addition, normal development children and children with autism may differ in facial morphology. This study also evaluates the effect of GFCF diet on IPD distance.




The study found that the GFCF diet had a positive effect on the behavioral symptoms and ophthalmic measurements of children with ASD. The pupillary response can be utilized to anticipate neurological and physiological activities under the surface. Changes in light trigger the pupil response, which adjusts the amount of brightness falling on the retina by instinctively constricting or dilating the pupil. Atypical pupil size has been linked to abnormal autonomic function in people with ASD. Disturbances in autonomic functions may also lead to differences in the corneal reflex.




The study concludes that the GFCF diet has a positive effect on the behavioral symptoms and ophthalmic measurements of children with ASD. The study also highlights the importance of further research to elucidate the underlying pathology of ASD and to assess the role of GFCF diet in the manifestation of ophthalmic measurements such as pupil size, corneal reflex, and IPD.




What is this research paper about?


This study investigates the effects of a gluten-free, casein-free diet (GFCF diet) on ophthalmic (eye) and behavioral symptoms in children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).


Who conducted the study?


The study was conducted by researchers at Meir Medical Center in Turkey.


What type of study was it?


This was an open-label clinical trial, meaning participants knew they were on the GFCF diet and researchers tracked their progress over time.



What is the GFCF diet?


The GFCF diet eliminates gluten (found in wheat, barley, and rye) and casein (a protein in milk and dairy products).


Why might a GFCF diet be helpful for children with autism?


Some theories suggest that gluten and casein may contribute to digestive issues and inflammation in individuals with ASD, potentially influencing behavior and eye health.


What were the dietary restrictions in the study?


Participants followed a strict GFCF diet for six months, avoiding all gluten and casein-containing foods.



Did the GFCF diet improve eye health in children with autism?


The study found some improvement in specific eye parameters, such as reduced tear film instability and corneal reflex latency, suggesting potential benefits for ocular comfort.


Did the GFCF diet improve behavior in children with autism?


The study reported improvements in certain behavioral domains, including reduced repetitive behaviors and hyperactivity, and increased social interaction.


Were there any negative effects of the GFCF diet?


No major adverse effects were reported in the study. However, some children experienced mild constipation or difficulty adhering to the strict dietary restrictions.


Additional Information

Is the GFCF diet a recommended treatment for autism?


More research is needed to confirm the long-term benefits and safety of the GFCF diet for children with autism. Consultation with a healthcare professional and registered dietitian is crucial before implementing any dietary changes.



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