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Some Parents of Autistic Children Trying Unproven 'Chelation' Treatments

Many parents of autistic children are turning to chelation, which is the removal of metals from the body. The unproven theory is that metals such as mercury and lead can accumulate to toxic levels and cause symptoms of autism. Those undergoing chelation take drugs such as Dimercaptosuccinic Acid (DMSA) and editate calcium disodium.

So far, three children have died during chelation, including one five-year-old autistic boy.

Dr. Susan Swedo, director of the National Institute of Health's autism research, has proposed a study of the effects of chelation on autism. She wants to recruit 120 autistic children and give half of them chelation drugs and the other half placebos. This study has not been approved yet for safety reasons.

According to figures from the Interactive Autism Network at the Kennedy Krieger Institute, more than two percent of parents have tried chelation. This would translate to 3,000 children undergoing chelation at any given time.

Autism is a developmental disorder that occurs in about one out of every 150 children. The symptoms involve difficulties in communication and social interaction, sometimes characterized by repetitive behaviors. Symptoms can be mild to severe. Parents are often frustrated by the slow pace of autism research, and most have tried one or more of 300 untested, alternative treatments like chelation.

"If they hear about a new treatment, they feel the need to try it," said Dr. Paul Law, Director of Medical Informatics at the Kennedy Krieger Institute. "Anything that has a chance of benefiting their child - they're willing to give it a shot."

Labels: autism, treatment

Posted By: Aspen Education Group