WASHINGTON, Oct. 18 (UPI) -- Prescription doses of folinic acid may help children with autism better develop verbal communication skills, a new study suggests.
The study was led by researcher Richard Frye of the Arkansas Children's Research Institute. In the experiment, 48 children with autism spectrum disorder and language impairment were randomized to receive 12 weeks of either high-dose folinic acid treatment or a placebo.
Children in the experimental group were found to demonstrate notably improved verbal communication skills. The findings were published in Springer Nature's journal Molecular Psychiatry.
"Improvement in verbal communication was significantly greater in participants receiving folinic acid as compared with those receiving the placebo," Frye explained in a press release.
Frye's research team went on to add their findings could assist how the medical community treats individuals living with autism spectrum disorder, or ASD. Children with folate receptor autoantibodies, the researchers add, were found to have more favorable responses to the folinic acid treatment.
ASD, which is characterized by impaired social and communication skills in addition to repetitive behaviors, is typically treated with medication in combination with therapy.
"The only currently approved medications for autism are both antipsychotic medications that address non-core symptoms and can lead to unwanted side effects," study co-author John Slattery explained.
The research team is confident their findings can help develop better drugs to help children with ASD live easier lives, but they stress additional experiments with larger sample sizes should be conducted to verify their results.