Carnitine Deficiency Linked to Mild Form of Autism

Autism and Carnitine DeficiencyA new research paper proposed a link may exist between a mild form of autism and a deficiency of L-Carnitine. Revolutionary implications in the prevention of autism would be triggered if this hypothesis were confirmed with additional clinical studies.  Genetic factors observed in autistic patients as well as results from animal studies lead researchers to infer low brain levels of L-Carnitine may result in a mild form of autism predominately affecting males.

Prior research has found 1 in 350 males cannot produce L-Carnitine because they have an inactive form of the trimethyllysine hydroxylase, epsilon gene (TMLHE).  Approximately 3% of these males with the inactive TMLHE gene develop autism.  Additionally TMLHE gene variation only accounts for 1% of autism case.  Hence, researchers have concluded that a brain L-Carnitine deficiency may account for a larger percentage of autism cases.

Symptoms of autism often begin at between 6 and 18 months of age.  Researchers believe the delayed onset of autism symptoms occur because L-Carnitine is delivered across the placenta and most infants are born with adequate L-Carnitine stores.  Also, infants formulas, cow’s milk and of course breast milk all contain abundant amounts of L-Carnitine providing adequate protection for the infant from an L-Carnitine deficiency during the early months of life.  The first foods introduced to an infant occur between ages 4 and 8 months and contain little or no L-Carnitine since meats are introduced later in the infant’s development.  The reduction in L-Carnitine is believed to lead to brain L-Carnitine deficiency and to autism.

Researchers are calling for more studies to confirm these findings.

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Vitamin D3 Supplements Shown To Significantly Improve Autism Symptoms

autismA first of its kind study has shown taking a daily Vitamin D3 supplement may improve autism symptoms of children.

109 children, ages 3 thru 10 years of age participated in this double-blind, randomized clinical trial.  The study lasted four months.  The daily doses of D3 given to the participants worked out to be 300 IU per kg of the child’s body weight.  However the dose never exceeded 5,000 IU daily.   Researchers pointed out that the relatively high levels of Vitamin D were “well tolerated by the children participants and side effects like itching, diarrhea, and skin rashes were only seen in 5 of the children.

The severity of the autism in the participants and their social maturity were assessed using the Childhood Autism Rating Scale (CARS), the Aberrant Behavior Checklist (ABC) and the Autism Treatment Evaluation Checklist (ATEC).  Symptoms like inappropriate speech, social withdrawal, hyperactivity and irritability were tracked using these assessments.

76.4% of the children given Vitamin D saw a 4-10 point drop in CARS Scores and 18.2% had a 1-3 point drop.  Only 5.4% of the children receiving the Vitamin D saw no improvements at all.

Researchers warned that this was one single study with a limited number of participants and more, larger scale studies were needed to validate the role Vitamin D might play in Autism Spectrum Disorder.

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