Parents of children with autism often use complementary alternative medicine the majority of the time alongside conventional treatments.
A new study published in the Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics looks at which alternatives are most common and their risk levels. Researchers surveyed parents of more than 500 children who were 2 to 5 years old. 453 were diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorders and 125 with other developmental delays.
They found that complementary alternative medicine was being used in 39% of the children with autism spectrum disorders versus 30% of the children with other disabilities. The most common alternative treatment was the use of dietary supplements.
The data also showed that children with ASD were more likely to be on a gluten-free/casein-free diet. Both of these are considered low risk but 8.6% of parents reported using alternative treatments classified by the study as potentially unsafe, invasive or unproven. These included chelation therapy, antifungal medications and vitamin B-12 injections.
The researchers say these findings suggest that health care providers need to learn what types of therapy families are using and talk to them about the efficacy and safety of alternative treatments
I'm Dr. Cindy Haines of HealthDay TV, with health information for healthier living.