Autism

Q: My son is suffering from autism. Recently, I have read a few articles on autism on the internet published by Autism Research Institute - USA. The articles claim that vitamin B6 and magnesium can help autist children, so can vitamin C. My son was tested for magnesium deficiency at NIMHANS, Bangalore and level found o.k. Could I have your opinion on the above claims please?

A:Several reports have described salutary effects such as decreased physical aggression and improved social responsiveness being associated with the administration of high doses of pyridoxine and magnesium in open-labelled and controlled studies of patients with autism. Despite this fact, this intervention remains controversial. To highlight this issue, let me quote a recent study from Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio, USA published in 1997. They used doses as high as 638.9 mg of pyridoxine and 216.3 mg of magnesium oxide in a placebo-controlled double-blind trial, but did not find them to be effective in ameliorating autistic behaviours as assessed by objective criteria such as Children's Psychiatric Rating Scale (CPRS) and other parameters. However no clinically significant side effects were noted during the study. A review of 12 published studies similarly did not find objective evidence for Vitamin B6 and magnesium therapy. Similar reports are available for niacin and vitamin B6. These observations have put a doubt about the clinical usefulness of these therapies in autism.

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