Gluten Intolerance, or Celiac Disease, is a genetic disorder that affects 1 in 133 Americans. There are several symptoms to celiac disease, although a Celiac may experience one or all of them. Symptoms include: diarrhea, weight loss, malnutrition and nutrient deficiency. A Celiac might feel mild weakness or bone pain, severe diarrhea and abdominal bloating. Continued Gluten use can greatly increase chances of gastrointestinal cancer. It is important for those with a Gluten Intolerance to adhere to a strict gluten-free diet. Children with Autism may also benefit from a gluten-free diet.
A gluten-free diet is a diet completely free of ingredients derived from gluten-containing cereals: wheat (including kamut and spelt), barley, rye, and triticale, as well as the use of gluten as a food additive in the form of a flavoring, stabilizing or thickening agent. It is recommended amongst other things in the treatment of coeliac disease, non-coeliac gluten intolerance, dermatitis herpetiformis, migraines, and wheat allergy. Additionally, the diet may exclude oats. Some people for whom the diet is recommended can tolerate oat products and some medical practitioners say they may be permitted, but there is some controversy about including them in a gluten-free diet because studies on the subject are incomplete. Even if oats are included, it is important to source these from a facility that is gluten free, as most oats are contaminated during processing.
The scientific literature on the link between gluten and autism is mixed and there is no substantial research on in utero causality. There have been too few adequately designed, large-scale controlled studies and clinical trials to state whether the diet is effective. A small, single-blind study has documented fewer autistic behaviors in children fed a gluten-free, casein-free diet, but noted no change in cognitive skills, linguistic ability, or motor ability. This study has been criticized for its small sample size, singleblind design which may have skewed results on the basis of a "parent placebo effect". A 2006 double-blind short-term study found no significant differences in behavior between children on a gluten-free, casein-free diet and those on regular diets. A long term double-blind clinical trial sponsored by the National Institute of Mental Health ran from 2004 until November 2008; as of July 2009, results are not yet available. Gluten sensitivity is also seen as a genetically inheritable problem. With gluten being an ingredient in medication it is highly advised that a person on the gluten free diet consult a doctor and check the labels of medications before beginning a medication.