Dr. Fasano: Studying Autism, Leaky Gut & Gluten Sensitivity
From our August 2012 Newsletter
According to Dr Fasano in an interview with Allergic Living, Spring 2012 issue: “An Autism Answer?“, his preliminary observations were that a gluten-free diet may help about 20 percent of the children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), which is really a “catch all” term used for mysterious developmental conditions that range in severity and are characterized by varying degrees of social deficits and repetitive behaviors.
Fasano is a lead scientist in two studies that are exploring the links between general gastrointestinal dysfunction and ASD. Investigators from the Celiac Disease Center , the University of California at Davis and the California Institute of Technology are now studying the biological makeup of the guts of children with ASD and try to confirm the suspected biomarkers of gluten sensitivity in these kids and if successful, they will put the kids with those biomarkers on a gluten free diet and observe to see what happens to their symptoms.
For years, autism was only considered a neurological condition, but then Dr.. Stanley Feingold of UCLA began studying the role of bacteria and the gut. Dr Fasano and his colleagues are moving that research forward, studying “leaky gut” , which explains at least a significant part of the disordered spectrum. He is exploring the links between a genetic predisposition for ASD and environmental triggers like nutrients and “leaky gut syndrome”, which he knows occurs in celiac disease and also in gluten sensitivity.
“Fasano believes that inflamed cells in the gut make it through the bloodstream to the brain, causing ASD in the group of children with genetic predisposition.” At least half of the kids on the spectrum are thought to have some kind of gastric issue. Fasano is testing this theory as many parents have claimed success after placing their children with ASD on a strict gluten and casein free diet. (My nephew has had success with complete remission of his ASD Symptoms (PDD-NOS) by following a GFCF Diet and the results were astonishing for all to witness, his teachers could not believe he was the same child.)
Fasano suspects that “no matter what the cause, leaky gut syndrome inevitably leads to diverse health problems because all sorts of bad things get through to the rest of the body.” The first challenge is to identify a specific combination of “bad bacteria” that causes the leaky gut, which in turn leads to inflammation and finally to ASD. The Gut is not like Las Vegas. What happens in the gut does not stay in the gut. Just like in Celiac Disease, some of these immune cells will migrate to other areas of the body, including the brain.” The few autopsy reports he has seen of children with ASD indicate that they had inflammation in their Brains and he wants to know how it happened and how we can prevent it.
There is no link available to the article. Updates to this information can be found in Dr Fasano’s Book, Gluten Freedom that was released in 2014.