Advice To Parents: Double Check Before Using Any Alternative Cure For Autism

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By Pooja Bhagat | August 25, 2014 8:26 AM EST

Parents of autistic children have been constantly targeted with various expensive, sometimes even harmful, methods of treatment. In fact, some of these methods are unproven and not fully developed.

An autism conference in Melbourne on August 8, 2014 was conducted for the benefit of parents with autistic children. The speakers acknowledged that parents have been bombarded with useless and sometimes dangerous therapies, such as hyperbaric oxygen chamber sessions, homeopathy and chelation. These procedures are regarded as complicated, in which inappropriate application may result in cause seizures and lung problems.

The parents are also advised against chelation, which is an intravenous infusion of chemicals designed to remove heavy metals from the body. Chelation has killed three people overseas since 2003, including a child with autism. After seeing the results of this medication on rats used for experiments, the production of such has been halted due to possible brain damage.

According to experts, parents of autistic children are being targeted as they are deemed sensitive and more thoughtful of their children's well-being. They are more vulnerable and readily trusting in finding cures.

Professor Andrew Whitehouse, director of the Autism and Related Disorders research unit at the University of Western Australia told everyone present that no scientific evidence supports many of these complementary and alternative medicines.

Among the various alternative medicines being promoted for autism cure, only one has been proven to work-melatonin, which is said to aid in sleeping. No sufficient evidence has been gathered with respect to hyperbaric oxygen therapy, Vitamin B6, fish oil and immunoglobulin. In addition, no specific evidence has been given to support homeopathy, bowel bleaching or chelation.

Professor Whitehouse informed the crowd in the conference of the evidence backing the idea that music therapy and massage could aid in helping children with autism fall asleep. However, no direct evidence has been found with respect to the benefits of yoga for autism.

The conference revealed shocking revelations from the participating parents. It was found that 54 per cent of 169 families of autistic children used one or more complimentary or other alternative for autism. While unconventional treatments may sound persuasive, these are not sufficiently supported by substantial study.

For instance, hyperbaric oxygen therapy or HBO2 may cause seizures or pulmonary complications if used improperly or under inadequate supervision. On the other hand, secretin, an amino-acid polypeptide that aids digestion, as well as vitamin B6-magnesium were both safe, but did not have any positive effect on autism.

Since these alternative medicines are very aggressively marketed, it is necessary that parents should be wary of their harmful side effects.

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