Tags: chelation | autism | risk

Chelation Called Risky for Autistic Kids

Monday, 03 December 2012 11:31 AM

Chelation, a controversial treatment sometimes used in an effort to help autistic children, may do more harm than good, Baylor University researchers have found.
The treatment, which attempts to eliminate metals such as mercury and lead from the body, is not only ineffective, but may actually be harmful, according to the new study, published in the journal Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders.
"The chemical substances used in chelation treatment have a myriad of potentially serious side effects such as fever, vomiting, hypertension, hypotension, cardiac arrhythmias and hypocalcemia, which can cause cardiac arrest," said Tonya N. Davis, an assistant professor of educational psychology in Baylor's School of Education and co-author of the study.
Davis and colleagues reviewed the research findings of five published studies on chelation, involving 82 participants ages 3 to 14 who received treatment ranging from one to seven months. Four of the studies showed mixed results — some positive and negative outcomes for each of the study participants — and one study showed all positive results.
But after closer review, Davis and her research team found "methodological weaknesses" in the studies. Researchers also noted one case involved a 5-year-old with autism who died from cardiac arrest during chelation and that a 2008 clinical study of chelation treatment for autism was suspended due to potential safety risks associated with chelation.
"Chelation therapy represents the 'cart before the horse' scenario where the hypothesis supporting the use of chelation was not validated prior to using it as a form of treatment,” said Davis, supervisor of the Applied Behavior Analysis Program at the Baylor Autism Resource Center. “Evidence does not support the hypothesis that ASD symptoms are associated with specific levels of metals in the body."
Despite the risks and lack of evidence supporting chelation, the researchers noted an Internet survey found more than 7 percent of parents said they have tried chelation treatment for their children.
Davis said she hopes the new study’s findings can help parents make good decisions about treatment for their children.
"While I understand a parent's desire to try anything and everything that may help their child, as a researcher, it is difficult to watch a family spend time, money, and resources on interventions that research has found to be ineffective, or worse, potentially dangerous," Davis said.

© HealthDay

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A controversial treatment sometimes used to help autistic children may do more harm than good, researchers say.
Monday, 03 December 2012 11:31 AM
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