Sulphation deficit in "low-functioning" autistic children: a pilot study

Biol Psychiatry. 1999 Aug 1;46(3):420-4. doi: 10.1016/s0006-3223(98)00337-0.


Background: Parents of autistic children and autism support groups often report that autistic episodes are exacerbated when the children eat certain foodstuffs such as dairy products, chocolates, wheat, corn sugar, apples, and bananas. The hypothesis that autistic behavior might be related to metabolic dysfunctions has led us to investigate in a group of "low functioning" autistic children and in an age-matched control group each made up of 20 subjects, the sulphation capacity available.

Methods: Utilizing the biochemical characteristics of paracetamol we evaluated by high performance liquid chromatography, the urine paracetamol-sulfate/paracetamol-glucuronide (PS/PG) ratio in all subjects following administration of this drug.

Results: The PS/PG ratio in the group of autistic subjects gave a significantly lower results than the control group with p < .00002.

Conclusions: The inability to effectively metabolize certain compounds particularly phenolic amines, toxic for the CNS, could exacerbate the wide spectrum of autistic behavior.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Acetaminophen / administration & dosage
  • Acetaminophen / analogs & derivatives*
  • Acetaminophen / urine
  • Administration, Oral
  • Adolescent
  • Analgesics, Non-Narcotic / administration & dosage
  • Analgesics, Non-Narcotic / urine*
  • Autistic Disorder / etiology
  • Autistic Disorder / metabolism*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Chromatography, High Pressure Liquid / methods
  • Female
  • Food / adverse effects
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Metabolism, Inborn Errors / metabolism*
  • Pilot Projects
  • Sulfates / metabolism*


  • Analgesics, Non-Narcotic
  • Sulfates
  • Acetaminophen
  • acetaminophen glucuronide
  • acetaminophen sulfate ester