A quarterly publication of the Autism Research Institute

The Autism Research Review International is quarterly publication of the Autism Research Institute

Fall, 2016 | Number 4, Volume 30

Folinic acid boosts verbal skills in some children with ASD

A new study reports that supplementation with folinic acid, a form of the B vitamin folate, may improve the verbal communication skills of certain children with autism. 

Richard Frye and colleagues previously found that children with ASD have a high prevalence of folate receptor autoantibodies. In their new double-blind, placebo-controlled study, the researchers investigated the response of children with and without these autoantibodies to a 12-week trial of supplementation with folinic acid. The study involved 48 children with ASD and language impairment between 3 and 14 years of age. Doses of folinic acid were calculated by weight, with the maximum dose being 50 mg per day. 

The researchers report that for children with folate receptor autoantibodies, improvement in verbal communication was significantly greater in those receiving folinic acid compared to the placebo group. For children with biomarkers indicating more normal folate metabolism, there was no significant difference in verbal communication measures between the two groups. Daily living skills improved significantly in the folinic acid group compared to the placebo group. 

The researchers point out that no significant adverse effects occurred in the treated group, saying that “well-tolerated medications that target pathophysiological processes and core symptoms associated with ASD are sorely needed.” They also note that their findings are consistent with the idea that children with ASD and folate receptor autoantibodies “may represent a distinct subgroup” who can benefit from treatment with folinic acid.


“Folinic acid improves verbal communication in children with autism and language impairment: a randomized double-blind placebo-controlled trial,” R. E. Frye, J. Slattery, L. Delhey, B. Furgerson, T. Strickland, M. Tippett, A. Sailey, R. Wynne, S. Rose, S. Melnyk, S. Jill James, J. M. Sequeira, and E. V. Quadros, Molecular Psychology, October 18, 2016 (epub prior to print publication). Address: R. E. Frye, Autism Research Program, Arkansas Children’s Research Institute, Slot 512-41B, 13 Children’s Way, Little Rock, AR 72202, REFrye@ uams.edu.