|Treating the Cause Instead of the Symptom
CHORI Scientist Characterizes Novel Syndrome
Pediatriac emergency medicine physician and CHORI clinical scientist Claudia R. Morris, MD, has just published an exciting study in the July/August issue of Alternative Therapies, which characterizes a new syndrome in children of allergy, apraxia and malabsorption.
Verbal apraxia (VA) is a neurological speech disorder with no known cause. Consisting of motor, verbal and behavioral disabilities, VA occurs early in childhood development, but persists into adulthood as a lifelong disability and is found in about 50 percent of patients diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). The only treatments for VA to date have included speech and physical therapy to try and curb the symptoms.
"Verbal apraxia is a very misunderstood condition that isn't a diagnosis but a symptom," says Dr. Morris.
By distributing a questionnaire through a web-based support group and resource center for families with children suffering from VA, Dr. Morris was able to gather data on 187 different children with VA symptoms. The data yielded two critical pieces of information. One, that there is a subset of children with the VA diagnosis who present with the same symptom constellation of food allergies, apraxia, and malaborption, and two, that this syndrome is representative of a larger set of neurological dysfunctions that suggest a common underlying mechanism of disease that overlaps symptoms of vitamin E deficiency.
"Nutritional deficiencies have significant consequences on the developing brain," explains Dr. Morris. "Vitamin E deficiency in particular causes severe neurologic dysfunctions that parallel exactly the symptoms of apraxia. It is those very symptoms that improved with vitamin E supplementation."
A majority of the children with verbal apraxia responded positivity with vitamin E and omega 3 fatty acid supplementation, suggesting that this disorder is amendable to nutritional interventions.
"Why these kids have symptoms similar to those caused by vitamin E deficiency is unknown and needs further explanation. Regardless of the explanation, a nutritional vitamin E intervention does seem to help," says Dr. Morris. However Dr. Morris does advise families to work closely with a physician rather than trying promising but unproven interventions on their own.
In addition, the study underscores the importance of providing children with VA with a more comprehensive metabolic workup than is currently undertaken in clinical practice."We were able to get lab data on 26 of these kids," says Dr. Morris.
Tuesday, May 17, 2011 8:19 AM