Could An Antioxidant Supplement Reduce Autism Symptoms?

When your child’s wellbeing is affected by autism, there are many dietary and lifestyle changes you can make, both at home and at school, to improve his or her social wellness as much as possible. Now, thanks to a new study, you may be able to add vitamin and mineral supplements to your list of changes you can implement help your child.

According to the study, carried out by researchers from Stanford University School of Medicine and Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital, an antioxidant supplement called N-Acetylcysteine (NAC) may help to reduce the impact of autism symptoms. For the study, the team of researchers gave this NAC supplement to 31 autistic children aged from three to 12 years old, and used the Aberrant Behaviour Checklist to measure their progress.

The study lasted for 12 weeks, and during that time the researchers’ focus was on the classic behavioural problems that affect children with autism, and whether or not these became more manageable with the NAC supplement. These behavioural problems include irritability, for example, which can lead to involuntary bouts of kicking, hitting and biting, and study author explained that ‘today, in 2012, we have no effective medication to treat repetitive behaviour such as hand flapping or any other core features of autism.’

However, the results of the study were that, after the 12-week period, the team of investigators noticed that there was a significant decrease in irritability. When you break it down into the core results, the study showed that scores of irritability dropped from 13.1 to 7.2. Further, the team also discovered that there were positive changes too, in terms of improved repetitive behaviour, levels of shyness and ability to communicate.

The results help to prove previous research, as certain studies have already indicated that people with autism are deficient in antioxidants, so this improvement after taking a supplement of an antioxidant gives further weight to that idea. However, you need to bear in mind that these findings, which have been published in Biological Psychiatry, are only the result of preliminary research and so are by no means conclusive. However, the scientists reported that they are looking to expand on their study results in the future.

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