Organic Acids Test for Kids (why kids with learning difficulties will benefit)

The Organics acids test, commonly known as the OAT test is a great option for both children and adults, but today's article is going to focus on the Organic Acids Test for kids.

While many parents are doing the OAT test for their kids to help with conditions like ADHD and Autism to help identify individual triggers, this type of testing is beneficial for a wide range of health conditions.

In this article, we will discuss who would benefit from the Organic Acids test, how the test is done, and action steps for improving the results.

What is an Organic Acids Test?

Organic acids are measured in a urine test, this makes it a lot easier to test kids as there is no blood testing required or visits to a pathology lab, the OAT test can be done at home.

Organic acids are breakdown products of metabolism leading to an increase in metabolic intermediates, and on the Great Plains laboratory test there are over 70 different metabolites that are measured.

Organic acids are measured in urine as they are not reabsorbed by the kidneys and are easily excreted in the urine. The level of organic acids in urine is approximately 100 times greater than a blood test, this makes urine testing a lot more sensitive.

Urinary Organic Acids testing has been used in hospitals for a long time to assess metabolic disorders and Organic Acidemia, usually with infants, and while this can also be done with the Great Plains OAT test it is not the primary focus. An Organic acid disorder that is diagnosed in infants is usually caused by inborn errors of metabolism. 

If you have a young child or a child with special needs who would find a urine collection challenging, there are special pediatric collection kits available. 

What Can An Organics Acid Test Tell You?


While your child may have a diagnosed health condition, or a number of symptoms like learning or focus issues, behavioral problems, or digestive problems, the OAT test will help to identify the underlying cause.

The OAT Test Assists in Evaluating:

  • Krebs Cycle Abnormalities - also known as the citric acid cycle, it helps understand mitochondria function, which is how our body produces energy. Mitochondrial dysfunction can be a common problem with kids with special needs.
  • Neurotransmitter Levels - the test measures the metabolites of norepinephrine, dopamine, and serotonin which can be affected by toxins, dysbiosis, or nutritional deficiencies. The dopamine metabolite is often out of balance in children with learning and behavior problems.
  • Nutritional Deficiencies - the OAT test is particularly valuable in assessing B vitamin levels which are important for many different functions in the body.
  • Antioxidant Deficiencies - oxidative stress can be a result of environmental toxins or a nutrient deficiency. High levels of quinolinic acid, a neuroinflammation marker is often seen with autistic children, and kids with ADHD.
  • Yeast and Clostridia Bacteria Overgrowth - this can not only cause digestive symptoms but also behavioral problems that are also highly correlated with autism. Clostridia bacteria produce propionic acidemia which damages mitochondria.
  • Fatty Acid Metabolism - the test assesses how well your body can convert fats into energy which can affect fat metabolism.
  • Oxalate Levels - this can cause joint pain, kidney stones, and also be another sign of mold or candida overgrowth. High levels of intestinal yeast can also cause brain fog and learning difficulties.
  • Detoxification pathways - assessing glutathione, methylation, and high levels of toxins like ammonia which is indicated by the metabolite orotic acid. For some people, they are not exposed to more toxins but the metabolic inhibition of the detox pathways affects the clearance of toxins.

Understanding what is triggering your child's symptoms can help us customize a treatment plan.

Who Would Benefit From An OAT Test?

Has your child been identified as having ADHD or ADD? What about Autism Spectrum Disorder?

Both of these conditions can see improvement after implementing treatment plans that were implemented based on the urinary organic acids test results.

You don't need a diagnosis of ADD, ADHD, or autism to do this test. If you are concerned about your child's health and the standard test results show everything is "normal" the OAT test is a good option.

ADHD And The Organic Acids Test

adhd and the organic acids test

There is an ever-increasing diagnosis of ADHD and while some kids have all the signs of ADHD what if there was an underlying cause, which if addressed dramatically improved their symptoms.

Does this mean that they had ADHD, or was the issue gut dysbiosis, candida, or nutritional deficiencies that were causing their symptoms?

The number of people diagnosed with ADHD and prescribed Ritalin has increased dramatically. This could be because it is getting better diagnosed, or that the doctors are not looking for the cause and just treating symptoms.

Is It ADHD Or Something Else?

  • Normal age-appropriate behavior - are they just being kids
  • Low IQ or High IQ - very smart kids are often bored so play up in class
  • Oppositional defiant disorder - may not benefit from ADHD medication
  • Anxiety disorders - can be caused by gut dysbiosis yeast overgrowth and nutritional deficiencies 
  • Mood disorders - can have the same underlying cause as anxiety or genetic and environmental causes
  • Medical conditions that cause inattention and impulsivity - hearing and vision problems that are not identified can lead to behavior issues
  • Nutrient deficiencies - this can include Riboflavin (B2), Thiamine (B1), and adenosylcobalamin (B12) as these can be common nutrients that are deficient

Autism and the Organic Acids Test


The following markers on the OAT test are correlated with autism:

  • Yeast and bacteria - especially arabinose, citramalic acid, tartaric acid, and the clostridia metabolites HPHPA, 4-cresol. This is because they can influence the neurotransmitters, especially dopamine.
  • Oxalates - specifically oxalic, glyceric, and glycolic acids.
  • Mitochondrial function - including succinic, fumaric, malic, 2-oxoglutaric, aconitic, and citric acids.
  • Neurotransmitter function - HVA, VMA, HVA/VMA ratio, and quinolinic acid. These markers do not diagnose specific neurological disorders but show that there is something that is out of balance.
  • Nutritional markers relevant to autism treatment such as vitamins B1, B2, B3, B6, folate, and B12. Also, amino acid deficiencies, such as tyrosine can affect neurotransmitters.

With organic acid testing, we are not trying to cure autism but improve symptoms. This test is not just for autistic children but would benefit assessing autism in adults. 

Interpretation Of Your Child's OAT Results

If you have ordered the Organic Acids test for children through Planet Naturopath you have the option of having a one-hour consultation so I can help you understand your test result, and more importantly, help you with a treatment plan.

If you have already done your OAT test we can still help you with the interpretation of your organic acids test results.

Unless you are experienced in understanding the OAT test and what the individual urine organic acid markers mean I recommend working with an experienced practitioner.

The Great Plains Lab Organic Acid test is a great test, but with over 70 different markers assessed there can be the danger of trying to treat too many things at once, or in the wrong order.

This can either lead to taking too many unnecessary supplements, or not tackling the biggest priority which can often improve many other markers.

It is also important to remember that the reference ranges are based on the average of the people doing this test (which is how most labs get their reference ranges) and not on the optimal levels - so for most of these markers you don't want to be average as a lot of people doing this test are not well.

I like to focus on gut dysbiosis and candida markers as a priority, as fixing these can often lead to improved absorption of nutrients and other markers improving.

Of course, every person is different, when reviewing the specific organic acids I also like to take into account pathology markers and other lab tests if they are available, along with your child's signs and symptoms.

What The OAT Test Cannot Tell Us

While the Great Plains OAT test assesses 70+ markers there are still a number of things it cannot tell us.

  • Even though this is a urine test it does not diagnose urine infections.
  • There is a marker for Vitamin C on the test but it is not accurate due to vitamin C metabolism being quite quick so the overnight fasting levels when doing the test are usually always low.
  • It measures the metabolites of bacteria and does not give us the exact types of bacteria in detail, like a stool test.
  • It measures the metabolites of the neurotransmitters dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin but this does not tell us the exact levels in the brain.

How Much Does The OAT Test Cost

The OAT test can be shipped worldwide, and the cost of the test can vary because of shipping costs.

In the U.S. the Organic Acids test costs $345 for the test alone or $445 for the OAT test including a one-hour consultation.

In Australia, the OAT test costs $525 AUD which includes a one-hour consultation

If you're based in the U.K., Europe, Asia, or other parts of the world, email for a quote.

OAT Test Add-Ons

With the urinary organic acids test, there are several add-ons that are available, these are not essential to do but can help to add more information to your results.


The GPL-Tox test screens for 173 different environmental pollutants using 18 different metabolites, all from the same urine sample as the organic acid test.

GPL-Tox test uses advanced mass spectrometry which can detect low levels of genetic, mitochondrial, and toxic chemical markers.

Environmental toxins are hard to avoid these days, we are all exposed but some people don't detox these chemicals very well and this can contribute to neurological symptoms.

The GPL-Tox test can be ordered with the OAT test at a discounted price, this is an add-on when you go to the checkout page.


Glyphosate is the world's most widely used herbicide, used in commonly used products such as Round-Up.

Recent studies have shown that glyphosate exposure can cause many chronic health problems, including autism. 

Glyphosate can affect detox pathways, and also decrease beneficial bacteria levels leading to an increase in pathogenic bacteria.

The Glyphosate test can be ordered with the OAT test at a discounted price - contact to get this added to your order.


Myco-Toxins can be present in the environment and you don't necessarily have to see or smell mold, it could be growing out of sight behind a wall or in the air conditioning unit.

Symptoms linked to mycotoxin exposure include fever, asthma, sinusitis, memory loss, vision loss, chronic fatigue, skin rashes, depression, ADHD, immune deficiencies, anxiety, and liver damage. 

With the MycoTOX Profile, we can identify mycotoxin exposures and make recommendations for an effective treatment protocol.

Hair Minerals Panel

The hair mineral panel measures both heavy metals and beneficial minerals and can also be useful as part of a treatment plan.

There is no one perfect nutritional test for assessing nutrient status. The blood testing can be good for some nutrients like Vitamin D, while the OAT test is great for assessing the B vitamins. The hair mineral analysis is beneficial at assessing some of the trace minerals that are important for optimal health.

Heavy metal toxicity has been associated with autism and ADHD and can be important to assess when looking for the root cause.

There are 22 minerals tested include calcium, magnesium, zinc, copper, iron, iodine, lithium, and selenium. Minerals are important for many metabolic pathway activities and are essential for health - but can be low because of poor diet or poor absorption.

Plus a hair test is easy to do and can be done at home with just a small amount of hair.

GI-MAP Stool Test

Gut issues can be a problem for many children, and even for kids without significant digestive issues, gut bacteria can influence many aspects of health.

While the OAT test is great for assessing intestinal yeast and candida overgrowth, a stool test is a better way of assessing gut health.

I recommend the GI-MAP test as this can assess bacteria, parasites, and viral infections plus intestinal health markers for gluten intolerance, leaky gut, and more.

Genetic Testing

I would not base a diagnosis on someone’s genes, but genetic testing can help identify strengths and weaknesses, this can help identify areas of health to focus on.

I use SelfDecode to analyze the genetic information and they have over 30 different reports on all aspects of health including:

  • ADHD and focus problems
  • Genes associated with vitamin and mineral absorption
  • Food sensitivities
  • Sleep
  • Mood and anxiety
  • MTHFR and COMT genetic reports

I have an account with SelfDecode which enables clients to order genetic tests at a discounted price, or if you have already done genetic testing with 23andme or another company I can organize all of the reports for you.

SelfDecode Genetic reports cost $297, but if you order through this link you will get all of the reports for $97.


When you order the OAT test from Planet Naturopath we will not only assess the results of this test but also review other test results that you may have done, including pathology results and any other tests.

If you are not sure of the best tests for you to do for your child then schedule a 30-minute consultation and I can assess your child’s health and make recommendations on the best testing options for you.

About the Author Michael

Michael is head consultant at Planet Naturopath - Functional Medicine and Nutrition Solutions. He is a registered naturopath with the Australian Natural Therapists Association (ANTA) and works with clients from all over the world via video or phone consultations. He is a degree qualified naturopath from the Endeavour College of Natural Medicine in Australia with 18 years of experience. He uses advanced testing methods, nutritional medicine, herbal medicine, and lifestyle advice to help you stay healthy. He is a Kalish Method-trained practitioner that keeps updating his education with Chris Kresser. Michael completed Dr. Terry Wahls practitioner training program, a 12-month program with ongoing training that helps understand the underlying cause and treatment of MS and autoimmune conditions. He keeps up to date with the latest research into health and natural medicine through the Metabolic Fitness Pro course with Dr. Bryan Walsh.

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