Therapies and Products that May Be Dangerous When Treating Autism

Before we start talking about autism treatment, it should be made clear that no cure for autism currently exists. Any product that claims to “cure” autism should likely be avoided. This is also true for many products that claim to treat autism and its symptoms, as many of them pose serious health risks.

The Food and Drug Administration keeps track of all products, and does its best to warn any manufacturer making claims about products that are untrue or unproven. It’s a tough job, as many of these so-called autism cures are already on the market.

Autism Information

Stats delivered by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) show that roughly 1 in 68 children will be identified as having autism spectrum disorder (ASD). ASD’s are nor specific to one particular ethnic, racial, or socioeconomic group, although they are about 4.5 times more prevalent in boys. Roughly 1 in 42 boys are diagnosed with ASD as opposed to 1 in 189 girls.

When describing children with autism, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) point to things like issues with verbal and nonverbal communication, obsessive interests, problems with social interaction, and a display of repetitive behaviors. While some ASD sufferers have mild behavioral issues, others have severe, almost disabling problems

The FDA has approved some drugs used to manage the symptoms related with autism. Included in this group are antipsychotics such as risperidone, which is prescribed to patients aged between 5 and 16. Aripripazole is another approved drugs, and is used on patients aged 6 of 17 who experience irritability due to their ASD. Rather than simply choosing a drug therapy that claims to treat or cure ASD, you should take time to talk to a health professional about your options.

The Association for Science in Autism Treatment (ASAT) is a non-profit organization made up of health professionals and the parents of children with autism, all of whom are invested in the treatment and care of people suffering from the ailment. They know better than most that there is a long history of product fads and failed treatments for autism.

The FDA False Claims Crackdown

Commander Jason Humbert, M.H.S., R.N., a regulatory operations officer in the FDA’s Office of Regulatory Affairs, claims that the FDA has either warned or taken action against several companies who have made improper claims about the efficacy of their autism products, especially as it pertains to the supposed treatment and cure. The list below shows just some of the autism therapies that could potentially pose a health risk:

  •  “Chelation Therapies.” The products that fall into this category claim to cleanse the body of heavy metals and toxic chemical. You can find them in a variety of different formats that include capsules, liquid baths, suppositories, sprays, and clay baths. The FDA has approved chelating agents for specific uses – lead poisoning, lead overload, etc. -, none of which includes the treatment of autism. The agents that have been approved are available by prescription only. If you have been prescribed a chelating agent, it should only ever be used under professional supervision. You can end up facing some potentially life-threatening health issues when chelating minerals that the body requires.
  • Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy. This is another method approved by the FDA, but once again only for specific uses, such as the treatment of decompression sickness. The treatment takes place inside a pressurized chamber, where the patient breathes oxygen.
  • Detoxifying Clay Baths. These products are usually added to bath water for the goal of ridding the body of heavy metals, pollutants, and toxins. These are often marketed as providing a “dramatic improvement” of autism symptoms.
  • Other Products. Items such as essential oils and raw camel milk are regularly marketed as treatments for autism, but they have not been proven safe or effective when used for this specific purpose.


Medications Used to Treat Migraines

Migraine Drug Limitations

The market is filled with drugs that help with the symptoms of migraine pain.

The majority of drugs on the market have proven effective in treating the pain and symptoms associated with migraines, but Eric Bastings, M.D., a neurologist at the FDA, makes it clear that they are not for everyone. Some users will experience side effects such as tiredness or dizzy spells, and pregnant women are ruled out from using them because of potential birth defects.

While there are also medical devices, such as Cefaly and Cerena, available to treat migraines, they too are not safe for everyone to use, with pregnant women once again at the top of the list of people at risk.

People who regularly suffer from migraine headaches will often turn to beta-blockers or propranolol, both of which are preventative medications. Beta-blockers are used to treat heart issues, and work by slowing down the heart rate. These types of medications are not suitable for migraine patients who also have lung issues, asthma, or a slow heart rate.

Topiramate and divalproex sodium, which are classified as antiepileptic drugs, are sometimes prescribed as treatment for migraines. Regular use of these seizure medications has proven effective in reducing the number of migraines suffered, but they do not stop them completely.

Medication Overuse Headaches

One issue that migraine sufferers may face when they take preventative drugs is something called medication overuse headache (MOH). This daily headache feels like a migraine, and is often brought on by overusing certain types of medication.

There have been several studies performed on the effects of over the counter (OTC) medications when used by migraine patients. When used for 10 or more days per month, these drugs may cause overuse headaches: aspirin, acetaminophen, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), combination pain relievers, opioids, triptans, and ergotamines.

The FDA is now actively working with manufacturers to ensure that OTC medications used to treat migraines have labels that mention overuse headache. These warnings are already present on the labels of prescription medications.

Patients usually find that the overuse headaches will stop when they come off of the overused medication. It’s important that you talk to your doctor if you believe you have MOH. Your physician can get to the bottom of what is causing you headaches, and can put together a plan of action to get you off the overused medication. It is okay to immediately stop taking some medications, but there are others where you will need to be weaned off. I some cases, patients may require additional therapy to treat withdrawal symtoms.

Best Advice for Migraine Sufferers

It is not uncommon for migraines to go undiagnosed and untreated. It is recommended that you talk to your doctor about your headaches, or that you seek help from a migraine specialist if you feel that you are not getting the relief you need. They can help you get the medication that is best suited to your specific needs.


Anemia Supplements

Anemia is the most common blood disorder in the country. According to the Mayo Clinic, more than 3.4 million Americans suffer with some form of anemia, the symptoms of which often include fatigue, weakness, shortness of breath, pale skin, and cold or numb hands and feet. Headaches are another symptom, as are nails that break easily.

The goal anemia treatment is to increase the amount of oxygen that your blood can carry. This is done by raising the red blood cell count and/or hemoglobin level. Otherwise, doctors treat the underlying cause of the anemia.

Low levels of vitamins or iron in the body can cause some types of anemia. These low levels might be the result of a poor diet or certain diseases or conditions. To raise your vitamin or iron level, your doctor may ask you to change your diet or take vitamin or anemia supplements.

If you are indeed iron deficient, your doctor will probably prescribe iron supplements. Most people with mild or moderate iron deficiency anemia can correct the problem over a period of about three months, but if iron stores remain low, a few more months of supplementation may be recommended.

Strict vegetarians may need to take in higher levels of iron.

At high doses, iron is toxic. For adults and children ages 14 and up, the upper limit — the highest dose that can be taken safely — is 45 mg a day. Children under age 14 should not take more than 40 mg a day.

The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests that — starting at 4 months of age — full-term, breastfed infants should be supplemented with 1 mg/kg per day of oral iron. This should continue until iron-containing complementary foods, such as iron-fortified cereals, are introduced in the diet. Standard infant formula that contains 12 mg/L iron can fulfill the iron needs of an infant until age 1.