Around 52 to 95% of children with autism are treated with complementary alternative medicine (CAM) therapies. A survey asked 539 physicians (90% of whom were pediatricians) about their practices and attitudes about CAM therapies for autism.
The most encouraged CAM therapies:
– Multivitamins 49%
– Essential Fatty Acids 25%
– Melatonin 25%
– Probiotics 19%
CAM therapies that were commonly accepted “if families were already using them”:
– Gluten-free/Casein-free diet 66%
– Elimination of sugar, preservatives, and additives 63%
– Probiotics 59%
– Essential Fatty Acids 57%
The most commonly discouraged CAM therapies:
– Delaying/withholding immunizations 76%
– Chelation 61%
– Anti-infectives 57%
– Secretin 43%
Physicians who were most likely to encourage treatment with at least one form of CAM (59%) were also more likely to want further training on CAM, ask patients about CAM use, report more knowledge about CAM, report having previous autism education, be female, be younger, and have a greater number of autism patient visits than physicians who did not encourage CAM.
The authors recommend a standard of care for autism which includes an evaluation of CAM therapies.
Golnik, A., & Ireland, M. (2009). Complementary alternative medicine for children with autism: A physician survey. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 39(7), 996-1005.