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New Treatment for Autism 'Holds Promise'

SEATTLE, Nov. 12 /PRNewswire/ -- A new treatment for autism appears to normalize brain function, according to Nashville physician Fred S. Starr, MD, FAACAP, BCIA-EEG.

In addition to high serotonin levels, autistic children have a characteristically common "u" EEG pattern reflecting impaired brain function, particularly in areas of the brain responsible for social interaction, communication, speech and bonding.

However, Quantitative EEG's conducted by Dr. Starr on autistic children after three weeks on the medication Respen-A showed that the children's brain patterning changed to "normal" patterning. Starr says that behavioral improvement was also "evident". "Speech, interaction and social skills improved markedly in patients using Respen-A, and displays of frustration and anger markedly diminished," Starr said.

The theory behind the use of Respen-A was developed by private researcher Elaine DeLack, Stanwood, WA. Unlike theories that center on negative reaction to vaccinations, DeLack looked at exposure to a commonly used drug used during delivery, and at brain enzymes that affect the brain both at birth, and again as the child enters childhood.

DeLack's hypothesis (which can be viewed in slide show format at connects autism to the use of epidurals during childbirth. Epidurals were introduced into this country in the 1960's. By the mid-80's, 22 percent of women received an epidural during delivery. In the mid-90's, the number grew to 67%. Today, nearly 90% of women receive an epidural during pregnancy.

However, DeLack contends that it may not be the epidural procedure, but the drugs given in conjunction with the procedure, in combination with the drug Pitocin, that has contributed to increasing numbers in autism.

Pitocin crosses the placenta to the infant's system during childbirth. The drug requires adequate production of an enzyme found in the liver (CYP 3A4) in order to rid it from the body. If the infant has a genetic inadequacy of the CYP 3A4 enzyme (found more often to be lacking statistically in boys than girls), the drug's intensity could become elevated in the infant's system, and build with another naturally occurring neurotransmitter that plays a key role in brain development: the hormone Oxytocin.

Oxytocin builds naturally in the brain during the first 7 - 10 days of life, ensuring that nerve patterning develops as it should in the brain. Once Oxytocin levels reach a naturally predetermined level, the development of the brain's nerve system (HNS system) ceases.

DeLack theorizes that the addition of Pitocin into the bloodstream of infants without adequate CYP 3A4 genetic enzymes, causes brain development to "shut off" early, stunting crucial neuro-development.

DeLack hypothesizes that a second enzyme may explain why autism shows up in many children around the age of three. The enzyme MAO-A is essential in regulating serotonin levels in the brain. In the first years of life, MAO-A levels remain high, assisting brain function. The impact of MAO-A may, in fact, cover symptoms of brain impairment in infants and toddlers.

MAO-A levels diminish as the child ages - allowing serotonin levels to rise, impacting the areas of the brain associated with communication, speech, emotion and bonding. Respen-A curbs the level of serotonin in the autistic brain.

"We see promise in all of this," DeLack says. "Further study will determine if simple modification during childbirth could be all that is needed to stem the surging tide of autism," states DeLack. And for those who have autism? "Respen-A could give them a quality of life that they - and their parents - deserve."

Prescriptions for Respen-A require a daily calcium supplement. For further information about Respen-A, go to


Dr. Fred S. Starr may be reached at

Elaine DeLack may be reached at


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