Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

, Volume 44, Issue 4, pp 747–757 | Cite as

Parents’ and Child Health Professionals’ Attitudes Towards Dietary Interventions for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders

  • Elizabeth Winburn
  • Jenna Charlton
  • Helen McConachie
  • Elaine McColl
  • Jeremy Parr
  • Anne O’Hare
  • Gillian Baird
  • Paul Gringras
  • David C. Wilson
  • Ashley Adamson
  • Sandra Adams
  • Ann Le Couteur
Original Paper


Parents of children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) use a wide range of interventions including poorly evidenced dietary interventions. To investigate parents’ and professionals’ experience of dietary interventions and attitudes towards a proposed trial to evaluate the gluten free casein free diet (GFCFD). Survey of UK parents of children with ASD, and professionals. 258 parents and 244 professionals participated. 83 % of children had received a range of dietary manipulations; three quarters of professionals have been asked for advice about GFCFD. Respondents identified an inadequate evidence base for dietary interventions in ASD and suggested modifications to a proposed trial design. Both parents and professionals supported the need for further evaluation of dietary interventions in ASD.


Autism ASD Dietary interventions Gluten Casein 



The authors wish to thank all the parents and professionals who took the time completing the survey and Rachael Taylor for administrative assistance. The study was funded by Autism Speaks.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Elizabeth Winburn
    • 1
  • Jenna Charlton
    • 2
  • Helen McConachie
    • 3
  • Elaine McColl
    • 4
  • Jeremy Parr
    • 5
  • Anne O’Hare
    • 6
  • Gillian Baird
    • 7
  • Paul Gringras
    • 7
  • David C. Wilson
    • 6
  • Ashley Adamson
    • 8
  • Sandra Adams
    • 9
  • Ann Le Couteur
    • 3
  1. 1.Solent NHS TrustSouthamptonUK
  2. 2.Communication and Language SciencesNewcastle UniversityNewcastle upon TyneUK
  3. 3.Institute of Health and Society, Sir James Spence InstituteNewcastle UniversityNewcastle upon TyneUK
  4. 4.Newcastle Clinical Trials Unit, The Medical SchoolNewcastle UniversityNewcastle upon TyneUK
  5. 5.Institute of NeuroscienceNewcastle UniversityNewcastle upon TyneUK
  6. 6.Child Life and HealthUniversity of EdinburghEdinburghScotland, UK
  7. 7.Guys and Thomas’ NHS Foundation TrustLondonUK
  8. 8.Institute of Health & Society and Human Nutrition Research CentreNewcastle UniversityNewcastle upon TyneUK
  9. 9.Department of Nutrition and DieteticsNorth Tyneside General HospitalNorth ShieldsUK

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