Wednesday, June 16, 2010

HBOT For Autism: Junk Science?

Yesterday "hyperbaric oxygen chambers to cure autism" made the Junk Science Week shortlist in a major Canadian newspaper. National Post financial columnist Terance Corcoran, darting about from fear to hype to hope, fails to build much of a case for such harsh judgment. And his entire tirade stems from a pretty finely balanced television story on CBC's The National.

We're on record, in this blog and on the HyperbaricLink autism page, in favor of more well-designed clinical investigations to build on last year's interesting work by Rossignol, et al, using mild HBOT. The UHMS December 2009 position statement on "The Treatment of Autism Spectrum Disorder with Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy" concurs:

... there is a strong case for further trials to be done in this area. Any future trials would need to be well planned, appropriately powered and include several relevant treatment arms.... These clinical efforts should be combined with efforts to elucidate the basic mechanisms by which mild hyperbaric therapy might exert a therapeutic effect.

Now does that sound like Junk Science to you? Let's be ever mindful of the canyon that lies between "unstudied" and "disproven" medical claims, especially when seeking effective treatments for such a poorly misunderstood condition as autism.

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