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Dietary Interventions for Autism Spectrum Disorder: A Meta-analysis

Fraguas D, Díaz-Caneja CM, Pina-Camacho L, Moreno C, Durán-Cutilla M, Ayora M, González-Vioque E, de Matteis M, Hendren RL, Arango C, Parellada M (2019) Pediatrics.  2019 Oct.  pii: e20183218. doi: 10.1542/peds.2018-3218. [Epub ahead of print] 

Web URL: Read this and related abstracts on PubMed here

Abstract:

CONTEXT:

Dietary interventions such as restrictive diets or supplements are common treatments for young people with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Evidence for the efficacy of these interventions is still controversial.

OBJECTIVE:

To assess the efficacy of specific dietary interventions on symptoms, functions, and clinical domains in subjects with ASD by using a meta-analytic approach.

DATA SOURCES:

Ovid Medline, PsycINFO, Embase databases.

STUDY SELECTION:

We selected placebo-controlled, double-blind, randomized clinical trials assessing the efficacy of dietary interventions in ASD published from database inception through September 2017.

DATA EXTRACTION:

Outcome variables were subsumed under 4 clinical domains and 17 symptoms and/or functions groups. Hedges' adjusted g values were used as estimates of the effect size of each dietary intervention relative to placebo.

RESULTS:

In this meta-analysis, we examined 27 double-blind, randomized clinical trials, including 1028 patients with ASD: 542 in the intervention arms and 486 in the placebo arms. Participant-weighted average age was 7.1 years. Participant-weighted average intervention duration was 10.6 weeks. Dietary supplementation (including omega-3, vitamin supplementation, and/or other supplementation), omega-3 supplementation, and vitamin supplementation were more efficacious than the placebo at improving several symptoms, functions, and clinical domains. Effect sizes were small (mean Hedges' g for significant analyses was 0.31), with low statistical heterogeneity and low risk of publication bias.

LIMITATIONS:

Methodologic heterogeneity among the studies in terms of the intervention, clinical measures and outcomes, and sample characteristics.

CONCLUSIONS:

This meta-analysis does not support nonspecific dietary interventions as treatment of ASD but suggests a potential role for some specific dietary interventions in the management of some symptoms, functions, and clinical domains in patients with ASD.

FAB RESEARCH COMMENT:

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