News and Notes from The Johnson Center

New Research on the Use of Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD) in a Child with ASD, FXS, & GI Issues

JCCHD | Mon, August 13, 2018 | [Autism Treatment][Healthcare][News][Research]

New research from The Johnson Center for Child Health & Development was recently published in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders examining the implementation of a Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD) for the management of gastrointestinal issues in a child with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and Fragile X Syndrome (FXS).

This brief report describes data that was collected from a four-year-old boy recruited as part of a larger dietary intervention study. During initial enrollment in the larger study, it was not disclosed that the child had any diagnosed genetic conditions that would exclude him from participating in the larger study and the child was enrolled. Six months into the study, records were submitted that indicated that the child had undergone a genetic evaluation at the age of three that resulted in a FXS diagnosis. This meant the participant did not meet criteria for the larger study and was subsequently removed; data from this participant was subsequently analyzed and published in this case report. Data collected at enrollment and again after 4 months of dietary intervention included anthropometrics, dietary intake, blood markers, gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms, sleep issues, and behavioral concerns.

During the study, all food and drinks that the participant consumed over the 16 week study period was selected and monitored by a dietician to ensure it met the guidelines of the SCD protocol and was prepared by a private chef using local and organic food sources. The child did not consume any food or drinks outside of the prescribed foods provided as part of this study. Weekly counseling was provided to ensure the child had adequate nutrition intake.

After 16 weeks, results indicated that the SCD protocol was well tolerated by the child and led to improvements in growth status and gastrointestinal symptoms, as well as a reduction in maladaptive behaviors such as sensory, repetitive, and ritualistic behaviors, semantic/pragmatic problems, specific fears. Results also documented an increase in adaptive behaviors such as receptive and expressive language, learning, and memory.

Based on these results, more research is needed to further evaluate the use of the SCD protocol in young children with ASD and FXS and GI Concerns.


Barnhill, K., Devlin, M., Moreno, H.T. et al. J Autism Dev Disord (2018).