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Monday, March 24, 2014

Cure Du Jour: MSG

Many posts have discussed purported "cures" for autismThe San Francisco Chronicle reports:
Katherine Reid, a Bay Area biochemist with a daughter who was autistic, believes she may have found an antidote to the neurodevelopment disorder - and it's as simple as changing a person's diet.
.... She thinks what it comes down to, at least for some people with autism, is permanently eliminating just a single chemical compound known as monosodium glutamate, or MSG - an ingredient many people associate with Chinese food.
While there is no science to back up many of her claims, [emphasis added] Reid said the most convincing evidence to her is the results she saw in her daughter. At age 7, Brooke is completely cured, Reid said. And from all outward appearances that seems to be true.

Dr. Robin Hansen, professor of pediatrics at UC Davis and a developmental behavior pediatrician who recently led a study for the university's Mind Institute, said it's fairly common for parents to seek out alternative treatments for their children with autism. Nearly 7 percent of the children with autism they studied were on gluten- and casein-free diets.
"We don't have a lot of diet research to look at, because these studies are difficult to do," she said, describing the trickiness of monitoring a child's food intake in a double-blind study. "And no one has done an MSG study. But what we do have doesn't show a marked difference even with children with gastrointestinal problems."
Still, she wouldn't dissuade parents from trying as long as they make sure the diet is balanced and to keep in mind that it's a big undertaking.
A single case proves nothing, especially when it does not involve rigorous measures (e.g., ADOS) before and after the intervention.

Reid's claims are not new:  she said the same things at Santa more than a year ago and has a nonprofit.