Autism Research: Effect of Additional Arachidonic Acid on Communication and Social Withdrawal

Autism Research:

Autism Research Studying Effectiveness of Additional Arachidonic Acid (ARA) on Communication and Social Withdrawal
Autism Study Demonstrates Effectivenss of Additional Arachidonic Acid (ARA) in Improving Social Withdrawal and Communication

Previous research has demonstrated that arachidonic acid (ARA), docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), and polyunsaturated fats (PUFAs) are important elements in the formation and maturation of the brain network.  Additional research has shown that arachidonic acid plays a key role in the process of signaling neurons to mature.  This study attempted to demonstrate the efficacy of supplementation with additional arachidonic acid (ARA) in individuals with autism.  The findings were published in an article titled Therapeutic Effects of Larger Doses of Arachidonic Acid Added to DHA on Social Impairment and its Relation to Alterations of Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids in Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders.

The study was a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial that lasted 16 weeks.  An additional 16-week open-label study was performed afterward to confirm the findings.

The purpose of the research was to determine the effectiveness of additional arachidonic acid and the relationship to changes in levels of polyunsaturated fats (PUFAs).  Outcomes were measured using the Social Responsiveness Scale and the Aberrant Behavior Checklist.

Arachidonic Acid Benefits:

The research demonstrated that additional arachidonic acid added to DHA resulted in significant improvements in communication as measured by the Social Responsiveness Scale.  More specifically, 87% of autistic individuals in the treatment group showed improvement compared to only 44% of autistic individuals in the placebo group.

The study also found that additional arachidonic acid resulted in significant improvements in social withdrawal as measured by the Aberrant Behavior Checklist.  More specifically, 88% of individuals in the treatment group showed improvement in social withdrawal compared to only 54% in the placebo group.

The study also showed a significant change in arachidonic acid (ARA) levels in the treatment group compared to levels measured at the beginning of the study.  A difference between arachidonic acid levels in the treatment group compared to the control group was found as well, although not a significant difference.

The open-label portion of the study was not sufficiently powered to show differences in communication and social withdrawal outcomes, or changes in plasma arachidonic acid levels.

The authors suggest the findings indicate that additional arachidonic acid added to DHA causes an increase in neuronal functioning, possibly resulting in the improvements seen in communication and social withdrawal.

The article was epublished in June 2011 in the Japanese Journal of Psychopharmacology.

Additional Information:

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