Treating ‘Fragile X Syndrome’ autism symptoms

Published by: ABC News

Holly is her mom’s little princess. But this girl’s fairy tale started with a scare. While pregnant with Holly, Vicki Davis found out she was a carrier of Fragile X Syndrome.

“I had never heard of it. I had no clue what it was,” said Vicki.

It’s a mutation of a gene on the X chromosome that leads to a lack of protein production, critical for development. It’s one of the most common causes of mental retardation.

“Thirty percent of individuals with Fragile X Syndrome have full autism. Another 30 percent have an autism spectrum disorder,” said Dr. Randi Hagerman, UC Davis MIND Institute.

Hagerman says she first met Holly when the girl was just a few months old. The infant’s Fragile X Syndrome was subtle.

But, “She was extremely delayed,” said Hagerman.

As part of a clinical trial, Holly started taking a serotonin medication. Then, minocycline, a common antibiotic normally used to treat acne, was added to her regimen.

“Her developmental testing just improved remarkably,” said Hagerman.

Holly didn’t start talking until she was 2 and a half years old. Vicki says additional minocycline treatments around that time helped her catch up to other kids, and even excel. At just 4 she started reading.

“The medication really helped her create some of those pathways that taught her how to learn,” said Vicki. Hagerman hopes the treatments that helped Holly could do the same for kids with autism. And that could mean a lot more children living happier and healthier lives.

The drugs Holly was treated with have a few side effects, mostly involving the stomach. Hagerman says the drug treatment can be used in older kids with Fragile X Syndrome. However, the results might not be as dramatic. The UC Davis MIND Institute is currently testing other drugs to improve the symptoms of Fragile X for patients up to 25 years old.  Click here to read the rest of the story.

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