Further Research on Gluten and Milk Proteins

The Department of Pediatrics and the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at The University of Texas Medical School at Houston will conduct a further study on the link between gluten, milk proteins and autism.

Autism is a complex neurobehavioral disorder linked to early abnormalities of brain development. Researchers have discovered that there are differences in the central nervous system’s anatomy and function in those diagnosed with autism, but the cause of the disorder is unknown. Experts theorize it may be a combination of genetics and environment. 
A lot of children with autism have gastrointestinal problems such as constipation and diarrhea. Whether these problems are related to brain development is open to question. There are neurotransmitters and neuroreceptors in the gut that correspond with those in the brain. 

The researchers will enroll 38 autistic children ages 3 to 9. They will look at the influence of gluten and milk proteins in the intestinal function. Gluten is a protein in wheat; casein and whey are proteins in milk. Casomorphin, a peptide in milk; and gliadomorphin, a peptide in gluten, are thought to be related to changes in behavior in these children. Children will be taken off gluten and dairy products before the four-week study and then half will be given gluten/milk powder and half will be given a placebo powder.
Researchers will study intestinal permeability (leaky gut) through urine collection and behavior through psychometric testing. 

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