The ScanBrit trial of a gluten- and casein-free dietary intervention for autism spectrum conditions represents one facet of a collaborative partnership between the Center for Autisme (Denmark), the Universities of Oslo and Stavanger (Norway) and ESPA Research.
The main aims of the various studies included under the remit of ScanBrit are:
- to ascertain whether a gluten- and casein-free diet can, under experimental conditions, positively affect developmental outcome in the medium- and long-term for children diagnosed with an autism spectrum condition,
- to ascertain whether best-, non- and/or negative-responders to such intervention can be predicted on the basis of behavioural, psychometric and physiological parameters.
The ScanBrit trial of dietary intervention represents the culmination of many years of discussion and planning following the call for greater research into any potential effect from diet issued by the UK Medical Research Council (MRC) review of autism research (2001). Our randomised-controlled trial (RCT) was conducted between April 2006 and October 2008 in Denmark and followed 72 children (aged 4-10y11m) over the course of combinations of dietary and non-dietary intervention. Links to the study entry in the NIH ClinicalTrials database and study abstract are provided below. Several different psychometric instruments were used during the study to gauge any potential response to diet. One such instrument was the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule (ADOS), considered one of the gold-standards in the assessment of autistic behaviours. Our study not only utilised a randomised design but also included an adaptive methodology. Specific targets of improvement were set whilst participants were on dietary intervention to denote positive effect from intervention. In order for the trial to proceed to its end point, such targets of improvement were required to be surpassed.
Group results, published in April 2010, suggested that such dietary intervention did improve developmental outcome, at least for some children with autism. Results suggested positive changes to core autism and other peripheral symptoms. The next stage of the work is to ascertain who dietary responders were, and what if anything, predisposed them to positive changes to their symptoms.
Notice (Dec 2010): we are aware that several full-text versions of the ScanBrit study have been posted on the internet. Please note that these do not originate from ESPA Research.