Autism spectrum disorders (ASD) are recognized as a major public health issue. Here, we evaluated the effects of folic acid intervention on methylation cycles and oxidative stress in autistic children enrolled in structured teaching. Sixty-six autistic children enrolled in this open-label trial and participated in three months of structured teaching. Forty-four children were treated with 400 μg folic acid (two times/daily) for a period of three months during their structured teaching (intervention group), while the remaining 22 children were not given any supplement for the duration of the study (control group). The Autism Treatment Evaluation Checklist (ATEC) and Psychoeducational Profile-third edition (PEP-3) were measured at the beginning and end of the treatment period. Folic acid, homocysteine, and glutathione metabolism in plasma were measured before and after treatment in 29 autistic children randomly selected from the intervention group and were compared with 29 age-matched unaffected children (typical developmental group). The results illustrated folic acid intervention improved autism symptoms towards sociability, cognitive verbal/preverbal, receptive language, and affective expression and communication. Furthermore, this treatment also improved the concentrations of folic acid, homocysteine, and normalized glutathione redox metabolism. Folic acid supplementation may have a certain role in the treatment of children with autism.
Keywords: autism; folic acid intervention; glutathione redox status; homocysteine; structured teaching.