Ketogenic diet versus gluten free casein free diet in autistic children: a case-control study

Metab Brain Dis. 2017 Dec;32(6):1935-1941. doi: 10.1007/s11011-017-0088-z. Epub 2017 Aug 14.


Many diet regimens were studied for patients with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) over the past few years. Ketogenic diet is gaining attention due to its proven effect on neurological conditions like epilepsy in children. Forty-five children aged 3-8 years diagnosed with ASD based on DSM-5 criteria were enrolled in this study. Patients were equally divided into 3 groups, first group received ketogenic diet as modified Atkins diet (MAD), second group received gluten free casein free (GFCF) diet and the third group received balanced nutrition and served as a control group. All patients were assessed in terms of neurological examination, anthropometric measures, as well as Childhood Autism Rating Scale (CARS), Autism Treatment Evaluation Test (ATEC) scales before and 6 months after starting diet. Both diet groups showed significant improvement in ATEC and CARS scores in comparison to control group, yet ketogenic scored better results in cognition and sociability compared to GFCF diet group. Depending on the parameters measured in our study, modified Atkins diet and gluten free casein free diet regimens may safely improve autistic manifestations and could be recommended for children with ASD. At this stage, this study is a single center study with a small number of patients and a great deal of additional wide-scale prospective studies are however needed to confirm these results.

Trial registration number: UMIN-CTR Study Design: trial Number UMIN000021433.

Keywords: Autism; Gluten free casein free; Ketogenic diet.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Autistic Disorder / diet therapy*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Diet, Gluten-Free*
  • Diet, Ketogenic*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Prospective Studies
  • Treatment Outcome

Associated data

  • JPRN/UMIN000021433