Health News: Supplement Offers Treatment of Unique Form of Autism

An international team of researchers led by scientists at the University of California San Diego and Yale schools of medicine have identified a form of autism with epilepsy that may be treatable with a common nutritional supplement.

Roughly one-quarter of patients with autism also suffer from epilepsy, a brain disorder characterized by repeated seizures or convulsions over time. These patients also suffer from epileptic seizures. The discovery may help physicians diagnose this particular form of autism earlier and treat it sooner.

The researchers focused on a specific type of amino acid known as branched chain amino acids (BCAAs). BCAAs are not produced naturally in the human body and must be acquired through diet. During periods of starvation, humans have evolved a means to turn off the metabolism of these amino acids. It is this ability to shut down that metabolic activity that researchers have found to be defective in some autism patients.