As if parents of autistic children didn t have enough to contend with, now there s a pseudo-warning from the animal rights/vegan-promoting group PETA alleging that consumption of dairy products is linked to autism. Citing one 12-year old study of only 20 children, the group trumpets that there was a significant reduction in some autistic symptoms when 10 kids stopped consuming casein, the protein in cows milk, compared to the 10 who continued consuming it. Really? Twenty children? Not exactly a large trial.
Much as did Andrew Wakefield in his thoroughly discredited study of links between autism and MMR vaccines, PETA carries their analysis way too far. Not acknowledging that this small study can in no way explain any potential links between diet and autism disorders, PETA relies on anecdotal tales to cement the link in readers minds.
As Kent Sepkowitz onThe Daily Beast explains, there is probably a small subset of children whose autism might be affected (for good or ill), however minimally, by dietary changes. But he notes that the exaggerated emphasis that PETA puts on such topics has only served to marginalize serious researchers who might uncover useful information and place the topic into the hands of charlatans and faith healers, those who use family desperation as an opportunity to turn a buck.
ACSH s Dr. Ruth Kava points out, With this ad, PETA has once again shown itself to care only about its veganism-promoting agenda. Any possible link between autism symptoms and diet should be carefully researched, but PETA wants to short-circuit this process to promote its own extremist point of view.