Is autism related to CFS and Fibromyalgia?

Instances of autism, chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) and fibromyalgia are steadily increasing, and specialists who work with the three conditions are becoming aware that there is a major overlap between them.

Autism is a brain function disorder that results in impaired social interaction, difficulty with communication and restricted and repetitive behaviour. The symptoms start before a child is three years old and affect four times as many boys as girls. Symptoms can range from mild to severe.

It is suspected that CFS, autism and fibromyalgia have related underlying processes, and given a person’s genetic make up, the same processes that trigger autism in children could trigger CFS and fibromyalgia in adults. And a study at the Institute of Chronic Illnesses in Silver Spring, Maryland, US, has shed light on this possible relationship by showing that a treatment for CFS and fibromyalgia is also helpful in treating autism.

A nutrient called L-carnitine (levocarnitine) was fed over a three-month period to 19 of thirty children with autism, and the remaining eleven were fed a placebo. The amounts given were according to bodyweight. Improvement was measured by scoring on the Childhood Autism Rating Scale (CARS), parents completed the Autism Treatment Evaluation Checklist (ATEC), side effects were measured and hand muscles were tested.

After three months, the children taking L-carnitine had significant improvements in the severity of autism. The results showed that higher blood levels of L-carnitine were linked to hand muscle strength, cognitive scores and CARS scores. Subsequent studies are recommended.

Source: PubMed

Click here for more research reports on possible treatments for autism

First Published in June 2007

Top of page