Tags: antioxidant | autism | nac

Antioxidant Eases Autism Traits

Thursday, 31 May 2012 12:49 PM

An antioxidant supplement has been found to be an effective therapy for some features of autism, according to a study of 31 children with the disorder.
The study, conducted by researchers from the Stanford University School of Medicine and Lucile Packard Children's Hospital, found the antioxidant known as NAC (short for N-Acetylcysteine) lowered irritability in children with autism and reduced their repetitive behaviors.
The researchers emphasized that the findings must be confirmed in a larger trial before NAC can be recommended for children with autism. But they said the findings of the pilot study are promising, noting irritability affects up to 70 percent of children with autism.
"We're not talking about mild things: This is throwing, kicking, hitting, the child needing to be restrained," said Dr. Antonio Hardan, who led the study, published in the journal Biological Psychiatry. "It can affect learning, vocational activities and the child's ability to participate in autism therapies."
Doctors typically treat irritability, mood swings and aggression in kids with autism with antipsychotic drugs. But they are not always effective and can cause significant side effects.
"Today, in 2012, we have no effective medication to treat repetitive behavior such as hand flapping or any other core features of autism," Hardan said. NAC could be the first remedy for such behaviors, if the findings hold up in future research.
For the study, researchers tested children with autism, aged 3 to 12 years. For three months, children received a placebo or NAC supplement prepared by BioAdvantex Pharma. Over the course of the trial, NAC treatment decreased irritability in the children by nearly half. In addition, children taking NAC showed a decrease in repetitive behaviors.
"One of the reasons I wanted to do this trial was that NAC is being used by community practitioners who focus on alternative, non-traditional therapies," Hardan said. "But there is no strong scientific evidence to support these interventions. Somebody needs to look at them."
Hardan, a professor of psychiatry at Stanford and director of the Autism and Developmental Disabilities Clinic at Packard Children's, is filing a patent for the use of NAC in autism, and one of the study authors has a financial stake in a company that sells the NAC used in the trial.

© HealthDay

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NAC supplements are found to be an effective therapy for some features of autism.
Thursday, 31 May 2012 12:49 PM
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