Controversies in the treatment of autistic children: vitamin and drug therapy

J Child Neurol. 1988:3 Suppl:S68-72. doi: 10.1177/0883073888003001s13.


A survey of approximately 4,000 questionnaires completed by parents of autistic children provided ratings on a variety of treatments and interventions. Among the biomedical treatments, the use of high-dosage vitamin B6 and magnesium (n = 318) received the highest ratings, with 8.5 parents reporting behavioral improvement to every one reporting behavioral worsening. Deanol (n = 121) was next most highly rated, with 1.8 parents reporting improvement to each one reporting worsening. Fenfluramine (n = 104) was third, with a ratio of 1.5:1. Thioridazine hydrochloride (Mellaril), by far the most often used drug on the list (n = 724), was fourth with a helped-worsened ratio of 1.4:1. The research literature on the use of vitamin B6-magnesium is briefly reviewed, and mention is made of recent findings regarding high-dosage folic acid in autism and biotin in Rett syndrome.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Autistic Disorder / drug therapy*
  • Child
  • Deanol / therapeutic use
  • Fenfluramine / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Magnesium / therapeutic use
  • Pyridoxine / therapeutic use
  • Thioridazine / therapeutic use
  • Vitamins / therapeutic use*


  • Vitamins
  • Fenfluramine
  • Deanol
  • Magnesium
  • Pyridoxine
  • Thioridazine