Evidence of the gluten-free and casein-free diet in autism spectrum disorders: a systematic review

J Child Neurol. 2014 Dec;29(12):1718-27. doi: 10.1177/0883073814531330. Epub 2014 Apr 30.


In autism spectrum disorders, many parents resort to alternative treatments and these are generally perceived as risk free. Among these, the most commonly used is the gluten-free, casein-free diet. The objective of this work was to conduct a systematic review of studies published from 1970 to date related to the gluten-free, casein-free diet in autism spectrum disorder patients. Few studies can be regarded as providing sound scientific evidence since they were blinded randomized controlled trials, and even these were based on small sample sizes, reducing their validity. We observed that the evidence on this topic is currently limited and weak. We recommend that it should be only used after the diagnosis of an intolerance or allergy to foods containing the allergens excluded in gluten-free, casein-free diets. Future research should be based on this type of design, but with larger sample sizes.

Keywords: autism; autism spectrum disorders (ASDs); casein-free diet; gluten-free; review.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Caseins / metabolism*
  • Child Development Disorders, Pervasive / diet therapy*
  • Diet Therapy / methods*
  • Diet, Gluten-Free*
  • Humans


  • Caseins