Health

Published on April 29th, 2014

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FDA: Consumers Beware of “Cures” for Autism

The FDA is warning consumers as part of National Autism Awareness Month to beware of products that are marketed as treatments and cures for autism.

In its April Consumer Health Information newsletter the FDA said:

One thing that is important to know up front: There is no cure for autism. So products or treatments claiming to “cure” autism do not work as claimed. The same is true of many products claiming to “treat” autism. Some may carry significant health risks.

There has been a long history of failed treatment fads since autism was first identified, according to the Association for Science in Autism Treatment. While some treatments the FDA outlined may help with other illnesses or diseases, they have not proven beneficial for autism.

The FDA identified five types of therapies that can carry serious health risks:

  • Chelation Therapies:  This comes in a number of forms including sprays, capsules, drops and suppositories and claim to clean the body of toxic chemicals and heavy metals. The FDA has only approved prescription chelation products for specific uses such as the treatment of lead poisoning.
  • Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy: This involves breathing oxygen in a pressurized cabin but has only been approved by the FDA for certain medical uses such as decompression sickness.
  • Miracle Mineral Solution (MMS): This product has been marketed as a cure all for a variety of conditions and diseases including cancer. When mixed according to package directions, this becomes a potent chemical used as bleach. The FDA has received reports that consumers who have taken MMS have experienced vomiting, low-blood pressure and other severe reactions.
  • Detoxifying Clay Baths:  These products claim to draw out toxins from the body and falsely promise dramatic improvement of autism symptoms.
  • CocoKefir probiotics: Claims for these products include that they are a “major key” in recovering from autism but there are no proven studies that these products are effective or safe.

Products that claim to treat a wide range of diseases and treat them quickly, or rely heavily on personal testimonials but have no clinical randomized trials to support the health claims are red flags. Consumers should talk to their health care providers before buying or taking such products.

TINA.org’s continuing coverage on products making unsupported claims to treat autism can be found here.

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