This editorial also appeared in the Spring 2016 issue of ARI's Autism Research Review International newsletter.
Injections of vitamin B12 may benefit children with autism, a new study reports.
In a double-blind study, Robert Hendren and colleagues randomly assigned 57 children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) to receive injections of methyl B12 (75 μg per kilogram) or saline placebo every three days for eight weeks. Before and after treatment, they measured the children’s scores on the Clinical Global Impressions-Improvement (CGI-I) Scale, the Aberrant Behavior Checklist (ABC), and the Social Responsiveness Scale (SRS).
Fifty children completed the study. The researchers report, “The primary outcome measure—the clinician rated CGI-I score— was statistically significantly better (lower) in the methyl B12 group than in the placebo group.” This scale measures overall autism severity. However, the children’s scores on the ABC and SRS, which measure changes in specific autism symptoms, did not change. Improvement occurred primarily in children who exhibited blood changes indicating an improvement in cellular methylation capacity.
“Although these findings are preliminary,” the researchers say, “this is an exciting finding that suggests that treating a known metabolic abnormality—impaired methylation capacity—holds the potential to improve [autism] symptoms.”
“Randomized, placebo-controlled trial of methyl B12 for children with autism,” Robert L. Hendren, S. Jill James, Felicia Widjaja, Brittany Lawton, Abram Rosenblatt, and Stephen Bent, Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychopharmacology, February 18, 2016. Address: Stephen Bent, [email protected]
“Small study finds B12 injections ease autism symptoms in some children,” Autism Speaks Science News, March 23, 2016.