A correlation between malabsorption of vitamin B12 and autism spectrum disorder (ASD) has been confirmed by numerous clinical studies; varying forms of B12 have been tested as possible anecdotes for some of the symptoms of ASD, if not as a 100% cure for the condition. However, the use of vitamin B12 as a treatment for autism is slowly emerging as a superior option.
According to DAN physician Dr. Jaquelyn McCandless, B12 is 80-90% effective in treating children with autism spectrum disorder.
How Can B12 Help My Child?
In a study conducted by the University of Pennsylvania, researchers found a high incidence of partially reversible optic neuropathy in autistic children who were “picky eaters.” When given vitamin B12, a nutrient which was missing in their diets, a marked improvement in visual functioning was observed.
Vitamin B12 aids in myelination, the production of a protective layer around the brain known as the myelin sheath. Vitamin B12 also influences production of neurotransmitters which carry messages between the nervous system and the rest of our body.
Are There Side Effects?
One of the dilemmas in obtaining proper feedback regarding B12 as a treatment for children with autism has been the accompanying side effects; though short-lived, many parents are hesitant to wait out the effects while the body adjusts to the new medication. Side effects can include hyperactivity, disturbance of sleep schedule and mouthing of non-food items.
Parents are advised to allow 5 weeks for B12 therapy to take effect. It is important to continue to observe your child’s behavior during these initial 5 weeks and not making any changes to their diet.