Widgets Magazine

Antioxidant may treat autism symptoms

A pilot trial at the Stanford School of Medicine and the Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital showed that the antioxidant supplement N-Acetylcysteine (NAC) may be an effective treatment of certain autism symptoms in children.

The study is part of an ongoing effort by researchers to find alternative ways to treat serious symptoms such as irritability and repetitive behaviors, which can significantly affect a child’s development, especially in learning and vocational activities.

Antonio Haden, primary author of the study and associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral science, said in an article in Stanford Medicine News that he has high hopes that NAC could be one of the first drugs to effectively treat serious symptoms of autism.

The trial ran for 12 weeks with 31 children, who demonstrated over that time period an average decrease in irritability from 13.1 to 7.2, as measured on the Aberrant Behavior Checklist scale. Additionally, the study revealed that NAC has significantly milder side effects on its patients than current treatments.

The next step for the study is to test NAC’s effects in a larger group and to determine how it functions within the human body.

Meanwhile, Stanford is currently filing a patent for use of the antioxidant in treating autism. According to Stanford Medicine News, one of the study’s authors “has a financial stake” in a company that produces the antioxidant used in the trial.

The full study and its results are expected to be published in Biological Psychiatry on June 1.


— Ileana Najarro