Animal rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (Peta), continue to host a years-old blog post on their website advocating a dairy-free diet for people with Autistic Spectrum Disorder.
The article, published on the animal rights group's website, claims...
...studies have shown that many autistic kids improve dramatically when put on a diet free of dairy 'products'...
...citing a study of 20 children from 2002.
The article and adjacent poster campaign has offended people with, and people close to people with, Autistic Spectrum Disorder.
The article claims that dairy products "worsen" autism, and heavily relies on testimonials and outdated studies.
However, studies since the 2002 one mentioned above are understood to have found that the current evidence for the efficacy of gluten and casein free diets in treating autism is poor, and larger studies are required.
More recent studies of similar sample sizes have addressed this specific question and found no association whatsoever between behaviour.
Two independent overviews have also discredited this study - the University of Texas looked at 14 other studies, finding that "overall the study quality was poor" and only the least scientific studies found a link between diet and behaviour.
Peta have been criticised for this blog before:
The exact same post was heavily criticised in May 2014, and Peta was the subject of articles from a range of media outlets, including Forbes and The Atlantic, as well as a very detailed post by clinical neuroscientist Peter Novella.
A month later they followed up with an anecdotal interview about Dairy and Autism with the editor of Autism Eye. The organisation repeated the scientific mythology in said interview.
This campaign has recently attracted criticism from Jack Monroe, among others - although it's not currently known whether Peta is renewing the campaign:
However, the blog remains up on their website, and ranks highly in searches using "dairy" and "autism" as keywords, despite criticism about the post by the scientific community for years.
It also ranks among the first entries to greet those searching for information about the mythic link.
A Peta spokesperson told indy100:
This is an old campaign that is still on our website because we have heard from people who have said it contains helpful information.
Many families have found that a dairy-free diet can help children with autism, and since the consumption of dairy products has been linked to asthma, constipation, recurrent ear infections, iron deficiency, anemia, and even cancer, dumping dairy is a healthy choice that everyone can make.