Alternative Treatment For Autism
The idea of using chelation as a tool for treating autism grew out of a belief that mercury-containing thimerosal in vaccines was the direct cause of a rapid increase in autism spectrum diagnoses. The theorists reasoned that if mercury was the cause of autism, then removing mercury from the body would cure autism.
The main force behind chelation came from the Autism Research Institute. A group of practitioners working on curing autism developed a set of protocols for a treatment called Defeat Autism Now . These protocols were based on the idea that autism is a condition that can be cured through “biomedical” interventions.
However, these theories are not widely accepted in the medical community and have even been found to potentially cause harm. The Defeat Autism Now protocol was discontinued completely for these reasons, among others, in 2011.
Pursue Other Medical Treatment
There are several recommended treatments that your pediatrician can help you target. Start with behavior therapy. This typically involves working with an applied behavior analysis therapist. This professional can develop a treatment plan for your child to build skills that help them improve socialization and communication, the two behavioral areas most autistic children struggle with the most.
ABA therapy is considered the gold standard in autism treatment, as it has been repeatedly shown to benefit children with autism. The earlier this therapy starts, the better.
An accurate early diagnosis of autism means earlier access to treatment services. While ABA therapy can benefit people of any age, the results are generally more dramatic and occur more quickly when the therapy is given at a young age.
You can also work with a nutritionist, speech therapist, occupational therapist, physical therapist, or other clinicians who will support your childs overall physical, mental, and emotional health. While ABA therapy is often the backbone of treatment, these other treatment services complement ABA well and can result in further development of specific skills.
What Is The Idea Behind Chelation For Autistic People
Blood contains several different chemicals in small amounts, but certain chemicals like mercury can be poisonous if the levels are too high.
Some people think autism is caused by an excess of mercury in the blood, which the body cant get rid of naturally. Supporters of this theory believe that removing excess toxins like mercury will remove the cause of autism.
Supporters of chelation also suggest that the excess mercury comes from immunisation. This is because, in the past, thimerosal was used to make some vaccines. Its important to note that thimerosal-based vaccines are no longer used in Australia. Even when they were, the amount of thimerosal was always below the World Health Organizations recommended limits.
Theres no scientific evidence that mercury is involved in the development of autism.
Description Of The Intervention
Chelation therapy involves administering a chelating substance that binds to heavy metals, such as lead and mercury, which then is excreted in urine. Pharmaceutical chelating substances are approved for treating patients with heavy metal poisoning. However, they have also been used for unapproved reasons, including treatment of patients with Alzheimers disease, coronary heart disease and ASD . See the section below for theories about the link between autism and heavy metals. Types of pharmaceutical chelating substances used to reduce heavy metal poisoning are outlined in . Chelation therapy is administered for approved uses in a highly controlled environment, which is different from the process followed by practitioners administering chelation for unapproved uses, such as for ASD.
Chelation Therapy And Autism
EditorMore children are being diagnosed as having autism, and there are currently no treatments based on aetiology. Consequently, a number of controversial, unproved, alternative treatments have arisen. The recent death of an autistic child after a medication error with intravenous chelation therapy has brought one purported aetiology based treatment to international attention. The 5 year old child reportedly died from hypocalcaemia after receiving edetate disodium instead of edetate calcium disodium.
Approved uses for chelation therapy include heavy metal poisoning in adults and children, although it has been used in an off-label manner for conditions such as coronary artery disease and Alzheimer’s disease. Practitioners are using a variety of chelation agents and routes of administration for children with autism spectrum disorders, with oral dimercaprosuccinic acid, also known as succimer, probably the most common. Several of the agents are not approved for use or are given through an unlicensed route of administration such as rectal or transdermal.
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Side Effects Of Chelation Therapy
You should only receive Chelation therapy with EDTA from a properly licensed professional due to the potential for side effects to develop in some cases. What are the side effects of chelation therapy? The most common side effect is a burning sensation at the site where EDTA is enters the vein, but this usually goes away quickly and is mild. Rare chelation therapy side effects can include headache, fever, nausea, and vomiting.
Its very important for EDTA to be infused properly and slowly, since high levels can cause electrolyte imbalances. Its also possible that while it removes harmful heavy metals, EDTA can potentially also bind to needed vitamins and minerals and remove them from the body, which poses the risk for deficiencies. To make up for this, many practitioners give patients large doses of vitamins/minerals following chelation therapy so they avoid becoming very deficient.
Although its very rare, kidney damage and heart failure can also occur due to blood pressure levels dropping suddenly and abnormally low calcium levels in the blood . At this time, children, pregnant women, and anyone who has a history of heart disease or kidney problems should not use chelation therapy without consulting with a doctor first.
Experts Slam Nih Study On Chelation Therapy
Last resort: A study that debunks chelation treatment would do little to convince parents who are desperate for options, experts say.
Researchers and bioethicists are reacting with anger to reports of a US National Institutes of Health study, intended to investigate the controversial chelation treatment for children with autism.
The protocol is under ethical review at the National Institute of Mental Health . Once approved by the institute, the researchers plan to submit it to the federal Office for Human Research Protections, which will assess potential risks of including children in the study.
Mercury chelation treatment is based on the premise that thimerosal, the mercury-based preservative used in vaccines, causes autism. The treatment involves giving children chelating agents such as dimercaptosuccinic acid to remove mercury and other heavy metals from the body.
Chelation has been used since the 1950s to treat lead exposure in children and, more recently, as an alternative therapy for adults with heart disease and children with autism. But there have been few studies weighing its benefits and risks.
Susan Swedo, a senior investigator in pediatrics and developmental neuropsychiatry at the NIMH, in January 2006 first proposed the study, which aims to assess the effect of a 12-week course of a DMSA pill or placebo on 120 children with autism. The institutes internal review boards approved the study in September 2006.
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Criteria For Considering Studies For This Review
Types of studies
Randomised controlled trials.
Types of participants
Individuals of any age diagnosed with ASD using established diagnostic criteria ) or standardised diagnostic instruments , the Autism Diagnostic Observation Scale , the Autism Diagnostic Interview Revised ) were eligible for inclusion in this review.
Types of interventions
Interventions were eligible for inclusion if they involved chelating substances of any type and dose, regardless of administration frequency or method, compared with placebo. Trials were also eligible for inclusion if the chelating substances were provided alone or as adjunctive treatment compared with placebo .
Types of outcome measures
Changes in the following core symptoms of ASD, using any measure , CARS), as assessed separately.
Changes in the following noncore behaviours, using any measure , as assessed separately.
Quality of life for individual or family.
Heavy metal levels in blood or nonprovoked urine. Provoked urine will be examined cautiously .
Why It Is Important To Do This Review
Novel therapies are used frequently by individuals with ASD . Despite their increasing use, most types of CAM for ASD lack a robust evidence base . Chelation therapy is one CAM that continues to be used and promoted as efficacious, despite reports of harm, withdrawal of a trial before recruitment because of safety concerns and discouragement by physicians . Adverse effects commonly reported with the use of pharmaceutical chelating agents are listed in . Deaths have also been reported . A systematic review that examines potential beneficial and harmful effects of chelation for symptoms of ASD is urgently needed. Results from this systematic review will help families with ASD make wellinformed decisions about the use of chelation therapy and will assist relevant services and guide other organisations in making decisions about best practice.
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Is Chelation Therapy Safe To Use
Many believe that chelation therapy can help other conditions like heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimers disease, Parkinsons disease, or autism, but it has no scientific nor medical proof. Do not try to undergo chelation therapy to reap these unproven benefits since it can backfire and trigger dangerous side effects.
While its FDA-approved for treating lead poisoning, chelation therapy is also not recommended to children, pregnant women, or patients with existing heart or kidney disease. A small dose can aggravate kidney damage and heart conditions, leading to grave repercussions when abused.
Not to mention, low doses pose risks of developing high blood pressure, headaches, skin irritation, or low blood sugar; thats why its crucial to talk with your doctor about the possible risks before undergoing chelation therapy.
Autism And Chelation: Where Is The Science
Nearly four years ago, the Institute of Medicine recommended research into chelation therapy and autism. But that never happened, and now a little boy in Pennsylvania is dead.
The heartrending tragedy of Abubakar Tariq Nadama, an autistic five-year-old who died while undergoing chelation this week, is one of the saddest chapters in the very sad saga of autism in America.
But even as the grieving immigrant mother makes funeral arrangements for her beloved boy, opponents of the theory that drew the family to America are holding his death up as proof that the idea is bogus. They claim that the use of chelation to treat autism is foolishly dangerous, and should be shut down at once.
Some people have come perilously close to exploiting this tragedy to further their own political or personal agendas. Some blame the boys death on his mother, who has been labeled as reckless and desperate. Others blame the Pennsylvania doctor — and any autism doctor willing to try chelation for the tragedy. Some fault me, for writing a book that dared to include the topic of chelation and autism within its pages.
Its time to take a deep breath and look at the facts.
First of all, only an autopsy will reveal the actual cause of death, and I think it is prudent to wait before jumping to any conclusions about the general safety of chelation and autism. That said, the boy did die while undergoing the procedure, and its possible the controversial treatment is what killed him.
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Chelation Study For Autism Called Off
Controversial Trial Too Risky, Panel Says
In a statement released Wednesday, the National Institute of Mental Health says its investigators would not go forward with a trial of chelation therapy that has been discussed for the past two years.
The decision was made after the federal review board that originally approved the study reversed its position.
The study had reportedly been on hold since last year when animal trials linked a specific chelation treatment to brain damage in rats.
“The Board determined that there was no clear evidence for direct benefit to children who would participate in the chelation trial and that the study presents more than a minimal risk,” according to the NIMH statement.
Other Ways To Lower Heavy Metal Toxicity
If youre experiencing symptoms of heavy metal toxicity, chelation therapy along with a reduction in common toxins may be able to help you. How can you lower your exposure to heavy metals in the first place? Start by adjusting your diet, and then consider taking supplements that can also help.
Lower heavy metals in your diet by limiting or avoiding these foods:
- GMO foods
- Packages/processed foods that contain many synthetic ingredients and additives
- Alcohol, which makes it harder for your liver to process other toxins
Want to practice some chelation therapy at home? Try incorporating these detoxifying foods into your diet regularly:
- Garlic contains sulfur which helps your liver detoxify itself of heavy metals like lead and arsenic. Research using an animal model has also shown that garlic can protect against heavy metal poisoning and also reduce the accumulation of heavy metals in the liver, kidneys and bone.
- Cilantro is tasty herb is a great addition to so many recipes including fresh juices and its well-known for its ability to act as a natural chelation agent.
- Brazil nuts are by far one of the best food sources of selenium, an important chelator that research shows can help the body rid itself of heavy metals, especially mercury.
You can engage in some natural chelation therapy with the help of well-chosen supplements. These are some options that can help lower the presence of heavy metals naturally:
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How To Do Chelation Therapy At Home Through Supplementation
However, there are other options related to chelation therapy that are now available in the market. Many people are more aware of the health benefits of chelation therapy, so they find ways to search for chelating products from healthcare providers. Also, some patients find it risky for them to undergo Chelation Therapy, so their doctors recommend passive chelation through supplements like Root Clean Slate.
What Is Chelation Therapy
Sometimes, heavy metals like lead, mercury, or arsenic collect in the body and lead to poisoning. Copper and iron may also collect in the body if there is too much for the kidneys or liver to filter out.
Chelation is a medical treatment that filters these metals out of the body to reduce or stop damage to organs, involving drugs called chelators, which bind to metals in the bloodstream. Once the medication has bound to the toxin, it is eliminated through urine that is filtered by the kidneys.
Since chelation is an intense medical treatment, the drugs do have side effects. In situations where a person is hospitalized for heavy metal poisoning, the benefits outweigh the risks. People who have acute poisoning from being exposed to mercury, arsenic, lead, and other industrial toxins or metals are in grave danger and need immediate help.
Doctors will only give these drugs to people who have heavy metal toxicity. A urine sample is used to measure levels of heavy metals or toxins in the blood, and a diagnosis is made.
Unfortunately, some organizations or individuals claim that chelation therapy can eliminate toxins from the body without the patient needing hospitalization. Chelation therapy has been falsely associated with treating medical conditions, including arteriosclerosis , painful leg cramps related to blocked or damaged arteries, neurodegenerative conditions like Alzheimers disease, and reducing or even curing symptoms of autism. These are false claims.
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Agreements And Disagreements With Other Studies Or Reviews
A systematic review evaluating the effectiveness of chelation for ASD was published after the title for this review was registered. The review did not limit inclusion criteria to randomised controlled trials; whereas we included one trial, included five trials. Nonetheless, all of the trials included in the review were reported to have substantial methodological limitations, and the results of our review support the findings reported by ; we agree that no available evidence supports the use of chelation to treat individuals with ASD symptoms.
Chelation Therapy For Autism Is Quackery
Chelation therapy for autism is not based on any scientific rationale and what evidence we have shows it does not work, yet it continues to be offered as an alternative treatment.
Ten years ago I wrote an article here making the case against doing research into chelation therapy for autism. The case is pretty straight forward there is no basic science reason to suspect that chelation therapy should be helpful for autism, and no preliminary evidence to suggest that it works. Further, the people promoting or using chelation therapy will not listen to the scientific evidence, and those who listen to scientific evidence already know enough to conclude that chelation therapy is not an appropriate treatment for autism. So what would be the point?
Now, a decade later, the situation has not changed, except that there have been a few studies that had no effect on the use of chelation therapy. A 2015 systematic review found 10 studies of chelation and autism. Nine studies were not controlled, which means that they are essentially useless. There has been only one controlled study looking at chelation therapy for autism, and it was completely negative. The authors conclude:
Parents often discuss alternative treatments theyre considering for their children with autism with Anagnostou, and shes fine with many of them as long as theyre safe and used in conjunction with proven autism interventions. But she draws the line at chelation therapy.
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Flushing Out Lead Metals With Chelation Therapy
Sherri Oliver lives in a small town on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. It’s a two-hour bus ride to get to the Mount Washington Pediatric Hospital in Baltimore — and she has brought her daughter, Katie Dail.
Katie has dangerously high levels of lead in her blood.
She’s a fast-moving first-grader with copper-colored hair. Katie has bright brown eyes but has trouble making eye contact. She also has autism — and she doesn’t really speak, but she makes a kind of whooping sound when she’s happy.
But Katie is not here for autism treatment. The treatment she has been getting — chelation therapy — is to get her lead levels down. Although hospitals offer the treatment, some desperate parents are turning to home-based chelation kits and over-the-counter pills, which doctors say can be more dangerous.
Lead can cause serious behavioral problems in kids and lower their IQs. When Katie’s lead levels are high, she gets irritable and has more trouble learning, her mom says.
“She takes all my time,” Oliver says.
Katie was first diagnosed with an elevated lead level at age 2.
Lead in the body is notoriously hard to get rid of. It seeps into the bones to hide, and sneaks across the blood-brain barrier, affecting mood, focus and sleep.
Last year, Katie stayed in the hospital for 19 days while nurses worked to bring her lead levels down through chelation.
“It’s nasty stuff. But it had to be done,” Oliver says.
Less Common Today
Description Of The Condition
According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition , autism spectrum disorder is defined as a set of pervasive neurodevelopmental conditions that are characterised by difficulties in social interaction and communication, and by the presence of restricted, repetitive behaviours . Historically, Aspergers disorder, autistic disorder, atypical autism and pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified were considered separate, diagnosable conditions that fall within the autism spectrum. However, the latest edition of the DSM has replaced these diagnostic labels with one umbrella term: autism spectrum disorder .
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How Chelation Therapy Is Performed
Chelation therapy sessions take several hours to complete and usually take place in a doctors office under special monitoring. Most patients need between five to 30 treatments for best results. Each treatment session involves insertion of an intravenous to administer liquid EDTA, usually into a vein located in the hand or arm.
The procedure isnt painful for most people, but like with all injections, its possible to feel some burning, redness or swelling at the injection site. There isnt much recovery time needed after the procedure and most patients are free to drive themselves home and go about their normal day. Some people report needing to urinate more than usual following chelation therapy, which can be beneficial considering this is how heavy metals leave the body.
How can you locate a health care provider with appropriate training to perform chelation therapy? Currently the American Board of Clinical Metal Toxicology is responsible for training and qualifying chelation therapy practitioners. ABCMT has actually been certifying doctors in chelation therapy for over 24 years! The American College for Advancement in Medicine is another organization that offers educational training. Both hold seminars and administer examinations in order for doctors to become board-certified and approved to work with patients.
You can find out more about the qualifications and seek out a trained practitioner on the American Board of Clinical Medicine Toxicology website.
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Summary Of Main Results
Few studies have examined the effectiveness of chelation for ASD, and no true randomised placebocontrolled trials were identified for this review. This review included only one study, which compared children who received one round of oral dimercaptosuccinic acid versus children who received multiple rounds of oral DMSA, and found no significant differences with regard to autism spectrum disorder symptoms.
Risk Of Bias In Included Studies
An overview of risk of bias is illustrated in . See below for more detailed information on risk of bias.
Risk of bias summary: review authors’ judgements about each risk of bias item for each included study.
Participants in the included study were reported to be randomly assigned, but no details were available on sequence generation or allocation concealment. As such, we rated risk of bias in these domains as unclear.
Participants, caregivers and investigators in the included study were reported to be blinded to the treatment condition; however, it is unclear whether all lab technicians and ADOS evaluators were blinded. It is also uncertain whether parents knew that all children would receive at least one round of oral DMSA during the first phase, and that only high excreters would continue on to the second phase. Knowledge that all children received at least one round of chelation or awareness of who was in the high excreter group would likely yield high risk of bias in the second phase. Therefore, we rated risk of performance bias and risk of detection bias as unclear.
Incomplete outcome data
Other potential sources of bias
Given these factors, we rated other bias as high.
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Extreme Risks Including Death
There are no benefits to using chelation therapy to treat anything outside of acute heavy metal poisoning. Again, there have been reports that people who used chelation therapy as an off-label treatment died. In 2005:
- A girl in Texas had a heart attack associated with hypocalcemia from chelation therapy.
- In Pennsylvania, a 5-year-old boy died from heart damage associated with hypocalcemia caused by chelation therapy.
Chelation therapy is not an appropriate or safe treatment for autism. It will not manage symptoms associated with the condition, and it is more likely to harm your child.