Autism Research: Analysis of Copper and Zinc Plasma Concentration and the Efficacy of Zinc Therapy in Individuals with Asperger’s Syndrome, Pervasive Developmental Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS) and Autism

Research for Zinc as an Autism Treatment:

Zinc Studied as an Autism Treatment in Autism Research Focusing on Zinc and Copper Plasma Levels

Research Looks at Efficacy of Zinc as an Autism Treatment in the Context of Zinc and Copper Plasma Levels

Several research studies have focused on copper and zinc levels in individuals with autism.  However, little to no research has been conducted concerning zinc as an autism treatment.  A recent study attempted to determine the efficacy of zinc treatment in individuals with autism.  The role of zinc was researched in regard to its effect on copper and zinc levels in patients with autism, Asperger’s syndrome, and PDD-NOS.  The findings were published in an article titled Analysis of Copper and Zinc Plasma Concentration and the Efficacy of Zinc Therapy in Individuals with Asperger’s Syndrome, Pervasive Developmental Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS) and Autism.

The first wave of the study focused on plasma levels of copper and zinc compared to controls.  This part of the study included 79 individuals with autism, 52 individuals with PDD-NOS, and 21 individuals with Asperger’s syndrome.  The control group consisted of 18 neurotypical individuals.

The researchers found that individuals with PDD-NOS and autism had significantly higher levels of plasma copper.  They also found that individuals with autism, PDD-NOS, and Asperger’s syndrome did not have significantly lower levels of zinc compared to controls.

The treatment portion of the study utilized zinc.  However, the authors also state that the zinc was given with antioxidants including vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin B-6, magnesium, and possibly manganese as well.  The treatment period lasted 8 weeks.

The authors state that after the 8 week treatment period with zinc patients in the autism and PDD-NOS group showed significantly lower levels of copper.  The patients in the Asperger’s syndrome group did not show significant changes in plasma copper levels.  Individuals in all 3 groups showed significantly higher levels of plasma zinc.

Observations were also made for changes in autism symptoms/behaviors with zinc treatment.  The authors report that improvements were observed in regard to awareness, eye contact, focus and attention, hyperactivity, receptive language, seizures, sound sensitivity, tactile sensitivity, and tip toeing in individuals with autismNo changes were reported in these areas in individuals with Asperger’s syndrome.

The authors state that their research may show a connection between zinc and copper in individuals with autism, PDD-NOS, and Asperger’s syndrome.  They also report that copper levels appear to normalize with zinc treatment in patients with autism and PDD-NOS.  Finally, they also suggest that copper levels improving with zinc treatment in the autism group but not the Asperger’s group, combined with the finding that symptoms improved in the autism group but not the Asperger’s group, may suggest that copper levels may be related to severity of autism symptoms.

The article was published in Biomarker Insights on November 8, 2011.

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