Response of intestinal mucosa to gluten challenge in autistic subjects

Lancet. 1979 Oct 27;2(8148):877-8. doi: 10.1016/s0140-6736(79)92688-6.


Eight autistic patients with steatorrhoea, hypocalciuria, and alleged behavioural improvements on gluten restriction, were fed ordinary diets plus 20 g gluten/day for 4 weeks. None of the patients had any significant change in body-weight or bowel habit as a result of gluten challenge, nor were any histological abnormalities detected on jejunal biopsy. The data suggest that the steatorrhoea and hypocalciuria seen in some autistic subjects cannot be accounted for by the presence of coeliac disease. Furthermore, these patients should not be confined to gluten-free diets, unless rigorous behavioural studies demonstrate a statistically significant improvement in behaviour as a result of the diet, or deterioration during challenge.

MeSH terms

  • Autistic Disorder / complications*
  • Autistic Disorder / diet therapy
  • Autistic Disorder / pathology
  • Calcium / urine
  • Calcium Metabolism Disorders / etiology
  • Celiac Disease / complications
  • Celiac Disease / diagnosis
  • Child
  • Glutens / administration & dosage
  • Glutens / toxicity*
  • Humans
  • Intestinal Mucosa / pathology*
  • Jejunum / pathology*


  • Glutens
  • Calcium