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Can certain diets improve behavioral issues? My son’s neurochiropractor suggests the use of diet (i.e. eliminate wheat and dairy) to assist in neurological development (including improvements in behavior). Most of his patients are autistic but he has found that certain diets have a profound effect on other individuals as well. Have there been any studies done on children with CdLS and diets?

Answer of our experts

There has been a lot of research showing a benefit of a gluten-free diet in a child with autism. (Gluten is the generic name for certain types of proteins contained in wheat, barley and rye.) To the best of my knowledge there has not been any study done on a child with CdLS and the benefits of a gluten-free diet. I have met with the families of children that have been put on a gluten-free diet by their doctor and the reviews have been very mixed with the majority saying that they did not see a benefit. That is not to say that it may not be effective for your child's behavior. A good resource for a gluten-free diet would be the Celiac Disease Foundation at 818-990-2354 or celiac.

There are many children with CdLS that have a lactose intolerance (the carbohydrate in milk) and a smaller portion that has an intolerance to the protein in milk and would need to avoid all dairy. Those with a lactose intolerance cannot tolerate milk but can tolerate small amounts of dairy products made from milk such as cottage cheese, cheese, and yogurt. You can try a lactaid milk or a soy milk to avoid lactose. Symptoms of intolerance would be abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhea, cramping, and gas. If your son is experiencing any of these symptoms then this could affect his behavior. It may be worth a try to avoid these products and see if his behavior changes. If you do avoid the intake of dairy products, I would make the extra effort to ensure that he is receiving enough calcium for growth. Foods high in calcium include: salmon, tofu, almonds and beans as well as many fortified products such as breakfast cereals, cereal bars, waffles, juices, soy milk, etc.

JR/TK 7-13-10

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Feeding and Dental Difficulties

In every CdLS individual with prolonged and marked feeding difficulties, the multidisciplinary assessment (from healthcare workers across many disciplines) should consider (temporary) placement of a gastrostomy (surgical opening through the abdomen into the stomach) as a supplement to oral feeding.
In individuals with CdLS who have recurrent respiratory infections, reflux and/or aspiration (breathing foreign objects into airways) should be ruled out.
The palate should be closely examined at diagnosis. In case of symptoms of a (submucous) cleft palate, referral for specialist assessment is indicated.
Dental assessment and cleaning should take place regularly; a more thorough dental examination or treatment under anaesthesia may be necessary.

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