FAB RESEARCH COMMENT:
This study adds some new experimental evidence to the longstanding question of whether opioid-like peptides derived from A1 beta-casein (found in standard cows' milk, but not in human breastmilk or other animal milks) may play a role in some symptoms of autistic spectrum disorders (ASD) - and related conditions.
Previous studies - like this one - have found some evidence of abnormal peptide profiles in at least a subset
of children with ASD. However, ASD is not a unitary condition, so differences in the populations studied and methodologies used have made any clear conclusions difficult.
As usual, 'more research is needed'.
Meanwhile, the A1 form of beta-casein is found in standard cows' milk in most developed countries - and at least some individuals with autism and related conditions appear to react badly to cows' milk, and to benefit from 'casein-free' diets.
Many others do not
benefit from excluding milk and dairy products. And as milk is a highly nutritious food for children, excluding it may require careful planning of the diet to ensure adequate intakes of all essential nutrients.
Importantly, however, A1 beta-casein is not
found in goats' milk, sheeps' milk, or the milk of any other mammals - including human breastmilk. These milks all contain A2-type beta-casein (the 'original' form in evolutionary terms). Only standard cows' milk contains the A1 form of beta-casein (which is digested slightly differently, producing opioid peptides to which some individuals may be sensitive).
Anyone suspecting that cows' milk might
be linked with 'intolerance' symptoms could therefore try exploring whether other forms of milk - containing only A2 beta-casein - might
be tolerable, as an alternative to excluding all milk and dairy products from the diet (which can increase risks for nutritional deficiencies unless the diet is carefully planned to compensate for this).
Very importantly, however, A2-type milks are NOT recommended if classic cows' milk protein allergy is known or suspected.
In this case, all animal milks should be avoided.
For more information on the differences between A1 and A2 milk, see
Read the abstract of the underlying research:
for other articles relating to autism and diet.