Bumetanide, a drug that lowers chloride ion levels, was shown to prevent the development of autism in the fetuses of mice that were genetically predisposed to have autism in new research conducted by Yehezkel Ben-Ari of Aix-Marseille University in France that was published in the Feb. 6, 2014, issue of the journal Science.
Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), the main inhibitory neurotransmitter in the human brain, has been proven to be a part of the development of autism. Normally, the high level of GABA activity in unborn children is reduced by the action of the hormone oxytocin from the mother. The reduction in activity does not happen when autism develops.
The researchers determined that high levels of chloride in the unborn child’s neurons prevent the action of oxytocin.
Injecting mice that were destined to give birth to baby mice that were autistic with bumetanide prevented the newly born mice from having any symptoms of autism.
The same effects of bumetanide were demonstrated in 50 children between the ages of three and 11 that were autistic. The drug reduced or eliminated the symptoms of autism.
At present there is no way to determine that a human fetus will be born autistic but the researchers assert that early treatment with bumetanide as soon after birth as possible may indeed be the cure for autism.