Can Food Sabotage Your Child’s Progress?

by Dr. Daniel Dantini, MD

In the mid 1980s, I conducted a study on food sensitivities and their effects on ADD/ADHD symptoms. After testing the patient for delayed food sensitivities, the study consisted of two phases:

The Avoidance Phase, in which the offending foods are avoided for six weeks.
The Challenge Phase, in which the excluded foods are slowly added back into the diet. The reason for the challenge phase is to prove that the foods identified by the test are actually causing specific symptoms.

Included in this particular study, was an autistic child around 2 years old.  During the avoidance phase when the harmful foods were removed from this child’s diet, ALL of the autistic symptoms disappeared.
With such dramatic results, the parents withdrew the child from the study before the challenge phase. They not only feared that challenging the foods back into the child’s diet would cause the symptoms to return, but that they would not be able to reverse them again.

This was the first autistic child I had ever encountered.  I consulted my dad who had been a General Practitioner for 50 years, and he had never seen a single case.  As an otolaryngologist, I didn’t see many cases of autism.

However, just before I moved from Pittsburgh to Florida, I saw the son of a nurse at the hospital who had just been diagnosed with Autism. After I tested him for delayed food sensitivities, I instructed his mother to have him avoid the harmful foods.  16 years later, he and his mother stopped by my office.   He had continued the protocol and was preparing for college.  As far as I could tell, he was normal. The only unusual remnant of his autism was that he couldn’t lie.

In Florida, I started seeing more and more patients on the Autistic Spectrum.  I have been watching results in my own practice and getting feedback from DAN doctors and others who regularly treat Autism.  What I have found is that, in delayed food sensitivity, immune complex plays a vital role in the progression of autism.  And the younger the child we treat, the better the results.

Certainly there are genetic predispositions that affect the population, but since it was rare before the 1980s, there is obviously something else, which is drastically contributing to, if not causing the huge increase in cases.

Allergic load and an over-stimulated immune system seem to me to be major culprits.  Allergic load is the amount of allergens the body can successfully tolerate.  When we’re exposed to more than we can handle, the immune system reacts badly.  In the case of autism, the brain is affected during its development.  By decreasing the allergic load, the immune system is better able to handle any other onslaughts it may encounter.  Since food is such a large portion of the potential allergic load, it makes sense to test children early for both immediate AND delayed food sensitivities and eliminate the foods to which they react. This increases the chance that the brain can develop normally.


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Your information and resource center for everything autism-related, including an unbiased place for your voice to be heard.
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Your information and resource center for everything autism-related, including an unbiased place for your voice to be heard.

0 thoughts on “Can Food Sabotage Your Child’s Progress?

  • Dr. Dantini deserves credit for shedding some light on the role of food on the development of children’s brains and bodies.  The earlier we catch these things the easier it is to treat.  Boy do I wish my parents had been knowledgeable about the damage done by gluten, I may have grown to my ideal height of 6′ 6″ (Michael Jordan’s height) rather than the 5′ 11″ I’ve topped out at 🙂

    Many people are skeptical about food intolerances and allergies and the role they play in disease, especially autism.  For those of us “in the know” everything looks like a nail that we can use to wield our healthy food hammer, but this is because food allergens have been linked to almost every disease under the sun.  The body is truly a system and problems created by the inability to digest particular foods are not limited to gastrointestinal problems.  As Dr. Hyman is fond of saying, “Fix the body and you’ll fix the brain.”
    Keep spreading the word.

  • I’ve been thinking about this a lot.  Certainly a lot in the past, but again now more recently.  My son has multiple diagnosis, one of which is autism.  We have finally discovered his LONG list of food allergies.  Of course, including gluten and casein….peanuts, eggs….

    We’ve been talking to our nutritionist about bacterias in the intestines from ingesting foods that he’s allergic to.  Seems we’re all on the right track.


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