Evaluation and Treatment of Copper/Zinc Imbalance in Children With Autism

The safety and scientific validity of this study is the responsibility of the study sponsor and investigators. Listing a study does not mean it has been evaluated by the U.S. Federal Government. Read our disclaimer for details. Identifier: NCT00325572
Recruitment Status : Completed
First Posted : May 15, 2006
Last Update Posted : January 15, 2013
Thrasher Research Fund
Information provided by (Responsible Party):
Jeanette C. Ramer, Penn State University

Brief Summary:

There are two phases to the study. The first will examine serum copper and zinc levels and copper/zinc ratio in children (ages 3-8) who have autism and compare them to levels from same sex and age children who are developing typically. The hypothesis is that there is a significant difference in the copper/zinc ratio between young children who have autism and their typically developing peers.

The second phase of the study will evaluate the effect of dietary supplementation using zinc and vitamin C for 16 weeks on selected symptoms of autism. Children with autism will be enrolled on the basis of copper/zinc ratios greater than 2.0, and as determined to be statistically higher than typically developing children. Measurements of serum copper, zinc and unbound copper will be obtained prior to, at the mid-point and end of the trial. Those children whose ratios have not fallen below 1.25, the top of thecurrently recognized range will have the zinc and vitamin C doses adjusted for the duration of the trial. Detailed evaluation of language skills, and a variety of behaviors will be evaluated prior to and after supplementation. The study will be placebo-controlled and double blind. Those children enrolled in the placebo arm will be offered a full trial of supplements at the end of the their participation in the study.

The hypothesis to be tested is whether correction of elevated copper to zinc ratios in children with autism can be accomplished by oral supplementation with zinc and vitamin C and if these children show measurable and significant changes in receptive or expressive language or behavioral parameters associated with autism.

Condition or disease Intervention/treatment Phase
Autism Pervasive Developmental Disorder Biological: oral zinc and vitamin C supplements Phase 1

Study Type : Interventional  (Clinical Trial)
Actual Enrollment : 3 participants
Allocation: Randomized
Intervention Model: Parallel Assignment
Masking: Quadruple (Participant, Care Provider, Investigator, Outcomes Assessor)
Primary Purpose: Treatment
Official Title: Evaluation and Treatment of Copper/Zinc Imbalance in Children With Autism
Study Start Date : November 2006
Actual Primary Completion Date : December 2010
Actual Study Completion Date : December 2011

Resource links provided by the National Library of Medicine

MedlinePlus related topics: Vitamin C
U.S. FDA Resources

Arm Intervention/treatment
Active Comparator: zinc and vitamin C supplementation
Participant will receive oral zinc and vitamin C supplementation based on the child's weight. Blood levels of zinc, copper, liver and renal function as well as blood counts will be measured. Copper to zinc ratio will be calculated at 6 and 16 weeks
Biological: oral zinc and vitamin C supplements
Each child will be provided separate suspensions containing zinc and vitamin C to be taken twice per day. The dose will be based on the child's weight and be titrated by checking copper/zinc ratio at 6 weeks of treatment. Monitoring of liver, renal functions and CBC will occur at the end of supplementation
Placebo Comparator: 2
Participant will receive placebo liquid with volume based on child's weight to match the amount given to participants in the experimental group.

Primary Outcome Measures :
  1. copper/zinc ratio of children with autism compared to typically developing children Phase 2: Change in copper/zinc ratio with supplementation of zinc and vitamin C [ Time Frame: 16 weeks ]

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Ages Eligible for Study:   3 Years to 8 Years   (Child)
Sexes Eligible for Study:   All
Accepts Healthy Volunteers:   Yes

Inclusion Criteria:

  • Ages 3-8 years
  • Diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder
  • Serum copper/zinc ratio greater than 2.0 or as determined in phase 1 of the study

Exclusion Criteria:

  • Known chromosomal disorder or neurological disorders other than autism

Information from the National Library of Medicine

To learn more about this study, you or your doctor may contact the study research staff using the contact information provided by the sponsor.

Please refer to this study by its identifier (NCT number): NCT00325572

United States, Pennsylvania
Penn State Children's Hospital
Hershey, Pennsylvania, United States, 17033
Sponsors and Collaborators
Penn State University
Thrasher Research Fund
Principal Investigator: Jeanette C Ramer, MD Penn State College of Medicine, Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center

Responsible Party: Jeanette C. Ramer, Professor of Pediatrics, Penn State University Identifier: NCT00325572     History of Changes
Other Study ID Numbers: 23275
First Posted: May 15, 2006    Key Record Dates
Last Update Posted: January 15, 2013
Last Verified: January 2013

Additional relevant MeSH terms:
Autistic Disorder
Developmental Disabilities
Autism Spectrum Disorder
Child Development Disorders, Pervasive
Neurodevelopmental Disorders
Mental Disorders
Ascorbic Acid
Growth Substances
Physiological Effects of Drugs
Trace Elements
Molecular Mechanisms of Pharmacological Action
Protective Agents