Oxidative Stress And Autism

Oxidative Shielding And Autism: The Link Between Oxidative Stress And Autism

In a conference as early as 2005, the Autism Society of America, or ASA, held a conference in Nashville to discuss oxidative stress and its connection to autism.  This seems like quite a stretch, until oxidative stress is explained in full.  Whether or not it could be considered an actual cause of autism is still in contention.

All body tissues oxidize, that is, they give off oxygen as their cells are burned up.  The body slowly replaces the burned cells with new ones, but it takes longer than it does to burn them.  Every human body oxidizes; that isn’t any different from one person to the next.  What this particular conference suggested was that children and adults with autism take in less oxygen and burn more of their cells trying to make their oxygen levels work for them.  This results in a condition known as “oxidative stress”, which decreases physical, emotional and cognitive abilities for people who experience it.

It can be counteracted through the consumption and absorption of anti-oxidant rich foods or supplements, which are sold over the counter in any pharmacy.  However, since the theory revolves around the idea that children and adults with autism suffer oxidative stress, that point beyond which they have stepped the threshold of anti-oxidant defense, they need even more anti-oxidants in their diets than the average person.

That means they need more of vitamins E, C, B6, and the minerals calcium, selenium, zinc and magnesium.  While parents can’t force more fruits and vegetables high in these vitamins and minerals down the throats of their children with autism, they can give them daily vitamin supplements that include all of the above.  (Not even a child with autism can refuse the tasty gummy and chewable vitamins they make for both adults and kids these days).

Nitrates, nitrites, aspartame and MSG were the top four ingredients the presenters at this conference stated that children with autism should steer all the way clear of.  For some unknown reason, the behaviors exhibited by children with autism after consuming these ingredients in their foods got worse.  That is something every parent with an autistic child wants to avoid.

In 2008, the San Diego Autism Research Institute announced that oxidative stress in children with autism was well documented.  There certainly must have been a shift in thinking in that three years between the conference and the Institute’s stand on oxidative stress and autism.  They give the topic a full page discussion, describing what it is and how parents can actively counteract it.  (See:  http://legacy.autism.com/medical/research/advances/autism-nutroxistr.htm)

In a blog on biomedical research for autism in 2011, the author clearly states that it’s still not proven that oxidative stress is the cause for autism, but like most parents and doctors, agrees that supplements definitely won’t hurt a child either.  The exact same vitamins and minerals previously recommended at the Nashville conference six years before are mentioned here.  There are no changes in what vitamins and minerals are expected to provide relief from oxidative stress in the child with autism, only that there have been some successes.

At PubMed.gov, the online library of national medicine and research, an abstract exists from late 2004 as the earliest recognition of high levels of oxidative stress in children with autism.  That is an amazing bit of proof from the government’s personal medicine cache of knowledge.  Usually if  the government gives something a nod, it has some truth to it.  (See: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15624347)  The same research group revisited the subject in 2006, now with more advanced methodologies, and reconfirmed that there is a correlation between autism and oxidative stress, but a causation can’t be proven.   That is to say, a correlation, a link, but not necessarily a cause of it.  It was the focus of five other studies over a four year period between 2004 and 2008, which means that there was enough interest and evidence for the government to support scientific research on the subject.

And so it goes on.  Parents want answers.  Researchers race after every possible lead, sometimes for years.  In the meantime, the children diagnosed with autism in the last ten years and those who will be diagnosed in the next ten years are learning to live life as normally as possible.  Parents who want to try treating an assumed situation with oxidative stress are welcome to do so.  The children simply gobble up the right multivitamin daily and the parents document what happens.  It doesn’t hurt the child, but parents shouldn’t hang their hopes on a cloud.  Instead, they should try to love the child with autism for what he or she is, exactly as he/she is.  It isn’t easy, and it will always be a challenge,  but when parents know they have done everything they can for their children, special needs or not, and love them the same, that’s the right way to be and the right thing to do for them.

Check out, “Risperidone a psychotropic drug and autism

1 comment

  1. Very interesting report! I have been concerned for sometime now for the lack of research that would suggest ‘how much is too much’ when we discus free radicals. I see a significant need to see a normative range of free radicals. That is: we know the normal levels for our cholestrial levels, our heart rate, blood pressure, A1C levels ect, but we do not review free radical levels. I understand there are limitations for measuring free radicals such as test retest reliability, costs and availability of such tests. This only supports my concern for lack of research toward an acceptable method to develop a cost effective test procedure for measuring and monitoring free radical levels. I foresee a need for a device that would allow individuals to monitor daily of often, free radical levels, much like one monitors blood sugar levels. It seems logical based on the massive number of research studies conducted which points at free radical damage as the cause or at the very least a factor in oxidative disease process.

    I was unaware of the research with Autisim and oxidative stress, but as stated above seems logical as the research has found oxidative stress as at the very least, a factor in nearly all disease processes. Discussion was made the need to reduce with supplemental approach as a means to reduce these free radical levels. Truely in my oppinion the safest approach for us, to reduce free radicals into a safe level until further research can better describe proper treatment options. I understand and appreciate the need of human subject research, but personally feel based on the significant research that suggests free radicals are at issue in oxidative stress related diseases, makes connecting the dots to suggesting antioxidant supplements to reduce free radical levels, a perfectly except able solution while research catches up and can provide better solutions. My wife and I found a new herbal Nrf2 product that assists the body in reducing free radicals by 40%, while up regulating the autoimmune function. If any should desire more information please feel free to contact me.
    Dr. Larry G. Martin

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