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GlutathioneForHealth: Autistic children have 50% less intracellular glutathione than other children), which is why they have so much trouble detoxifing vaccines, medications, environmental toxins, toxins in food and why they have so much trouble fighting infections and diseases.

Is that claim well supported by scientific studies? Is there reason to assume that autistic children would improve their condition by increasing their glutathione levels?

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    The only answer at this particular questions that we don't know the full cause of autism. Over 1000 genes have been identified to be involved in autism so far. You can dismiss McCarthy's claims on the basis that she is ignorant of basic medicine! – Larian LeQuella Dec 21 '12 at 3:23
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A causal relationship between glutathione and autism couldn't be proven. It is a risk factor (not a determinant factor) and it may be a potential treatment for autism.

Glutathione is involved in neuro-protection against oxidative stress and neuro-inflammation in autism by improving the anti-oxidative stress system [1]. Children with autism have significantly lower baseline plasma concentrations of methionine, S-adenosylmethionine, homocysteine, cystathionine, cysteine, and total glutathione. This metabolic profile is consistent with impaired capacity for methylation. [2].

Variation in glutathione pathway genes, perhaps through multiple gene effects, may contribute to autism risk [3].

Methylation capacity, sulfates level, and the total glutathione level are decreased in autism. There is an imbalance of oxidative and anti-oxidative stress systems in autism. Decreasing the oxidative stress might be a potential treatment for autism. [1]. Nutritional interventions targeting redox metabolism may benefit some children with autism. A greater improvement in glutathione redox status was associated with a greater improvement in expressive communication, personal and domestic daily living skills, and interpersonal, play-leisure, and coping social skills. Age, gender, and history of regression did not influence treatment response. [4].

References:

  1. Ghanizadeh A, Akhondzadeh S, Hormozi M, Makarem A, Abotorabi-Zarchi M, Firoozabadi A. Glutathione-related factors and oxidative stress in autism, a review.
  2. James, S. J., Cutler, P., Melnyk, S., Jernigan, S., Janak, L., Gaylor, D. W., & Neubrander, J. A. (2004). Metabolic biomarkers of increased oxidative stress and impaired methylation capacity in children with autism. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 80(6), 1611-1617.
  3. Katherine Bowers, Qing Li, Joseph Bressler, Dimitrios Avramopoulos, Craig Newschaffer and M. Daniele Fallin. Glutathione pathway gene variation and risk of autism spectrum disorders.
  4. Frye RE, Melnyk S, Fuchs G, Reid T, Jernigan S, Pavliv O, Hubanks A, Gaylor DW, Walters L, James SJ. Effectiveness of methylcobalamin and folinic Acid treatment on adaptive behavior in children with autistic disorder is related to glutathione redox status.

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