Food and Behaviour Research

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Combined vitamin B6-magnesium treatment in autism spectrum disorder.

Nye, C., Brice, A. (2002) Cochrane Database Syst Rev.  (4):  CD003497. 

Web URL: View this abstract (or full text for subscribers) via the Cochrane Library here


BACKGROUND: The use of mega-vitamin intervention began in the early 1950's with the treatment of schizophrenic patients. Pyroxidine (vitamin B6) was first used with children diagnosed with "autism syndrome" when speech and language improvement was observed in some children as a result of large doses of B6. A number of published studies attempted to assess the effects of vitamin B6-Mg (Mg was found to reduce undesirable side effects from B6) on a variety of characteristics such as verbal communication, non-verbal communication, interpersonal skills, and physiological function, in individuals with autism.

OBJECTIVES: To determine the efficacy of vitamin B6 and magnesium (B6-Mg) for treating social, communication and behavioural responses of children and adults with autism.

SEARCH STRATEGY: We searched the Cochrane Controlled Trials Register (Cochrane Library, Issue 2, 2002), MEDLINE (1966- January 2002), EMBASE (1980-January 2002), PsychINFO (1887 - January 2002), Dissertation Abstracts International (1861 - January 2002). The search engine FirstSearch was also used (January 2002). Reference lists for all the obtained studies and other review articles were examined for additional studies.

SELECTION CRITERIA: All studies in which the participants were randomly allocated prior to intervention and in which outcomes were compared to either a placebo or non-treated group were included.

DATA COLLECTION AND ANALYSIS: Two reviewers independently evaluated all potential studies identified as indicated above for inclusion.

MAIN RESULTS: Two trials were included in the review. Both studies used a double-blind crossover design. One study (Tolbert 1993) provided insufficient data to conduct an analysis. The senior author was contacted for supporting data but was unable to provide the needed information. The remaining study (Findling, 1997) yielded no significant differences between treatment and placebo group performances following the B6 intervention on measures of social interaction, communication, compulsivity, impulsivity, or hyperactivity.

REVIEWER'S CONCLUSIONS: Due to the small number of studies, the methodological quality of studies, and small sample sizes, no recommendation can be advanced regarding the use of B6-Mg as a treatment for autism.