Dr. Amber Brooks
Cholesterol Deficiencies and Autism
Many children with autism have low cholesterol and this has been brought to the forefront for some time now. A researcher at Johns Hopkins found that some of the behaviors that children with autism exhibit are in fact due to a genetic disorder called Smith-Lemli-Opitz syndrome (SLOS) and can be fixed with supplementation of cholesterol.
SLOS is an autosomal recessive genetic disorder and is due to a deficiency of 7-dehydrocholesterol (7DHC) reductase, the enzyme responsible for catalyzing the final step in cholesterol synthesis. As a result of the enzyme deficiency the 7 DHC accumulates and the level of cholesterol dramatically decreases. Although some children with SLOS have physical abnormalities, many are only mildly affected and behaviors may be their only abnormality. Obviously a child can have low cholesterol without having SLOS, this is why it is important to test and why supplementation in either case is warranted.
Some of the many things supplementation with cholesterol can do when needed include: improvements in sleep, aggressive behavior, walking, speaking for the first time and being more responsive socially. When supplementing with cholesterol you may also see decreased rate of infection, reduced skin rashes, reduction in self-injurious behaviors, improved muscle ton, growth, and decreased tactile defensiveness. Many parents see an improvement before the levels start to improve on actual blood tests, which may indicate the importance of this in the production of steroid hormones and bile salts.
Ask your doctor to do a cholesterol blood test to start with to see if it is low and you can make the decision to do genetic testing if applicable. It is very important to do testing and not medically advisable to supplement cholesterol unknowingly.