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Read Original Story

Special diet doesn’t help kids with autism in small study


5 Star

Special diet doesn’t help kids with autism in small study

Our Review Summary

Even in a short (491-word) story, there was a good explanation of how the research was done – with appropriate caveats about how small was the study sample.


Why This Matters

There have been so many claims made about an autism-diet link.  It is important to report on new evidence in this field.


Does the story adequately discuss the costs of the intervention?

Not Applicable

Not applicable.  The story didn’t discuss costs of the diet, but that doesn’t seem particularly vital.

Does the story adequately quantify the benefits of the treatment/test/product/procedure?


The story simply states that the diet free of cereal grains and dairy products did not improve symptoms.

Does the story adequately explain/quantify the harms of the intervention?


The story explains that he researchers reported finding "no adverse changes in behavior after the snacks  containing wheat, milk or both" and again emphasized that this was a small study.

Does the story seem to grasp the quality of the evidence?


First, the story emphasized that this was a small study.

Second, it explained why the "scientists say theirs is the most tightly controlled autism diet study so far."   Good explanation of how the study was done.

Third, the story quoted one observer questioning what might have been found if the study had been tweaked a bit.

Does the story commit disease-mongering?


No disease-mongering.  A sidebar gives prevalence estimates and cites the source of the statistics.

Does the story use independent sources and identify conflicts of interest?


The story turned to one pediatrician, who, while having trained with the lead researcher, also raised a question about the study.

Does the story compare the new approach with existing alternatives?

Not Applicable

Not applicable.  There really wasn’t a new approach being tested.

Does the story establish the availability of the treatment/test/product/procedure?


The story explains that "up to a third of children with autism are put on special diets like the one tested."

Does the story establish the true novelty of the approach?


The story makes clear that this is one of several studies that have been done on questions of an autism-diet link.

Does the story appear to rely solely or largely on a news release?


It’s clear that the story did not rely solely on a news release.

Total Score: 8 of 8 Satisfactory


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