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Monday, July 8, 2024

CAM: A Lit Review

In The Politics of Autism, I write:

The conventional wisdom is that any kind of treatment is likely to be less effective as the child gets older, so parents of autistic children usually believe that they are working against the clock. They will not be satisfied with the ambiguities surrounding ABA, nor will they want to wait for some future research finding that might slightly increase its effectiveness. They want results now. Because there are no scientifically-validated drugs for the core symptoms of autism, they look outside the boundaries of mainstream medicine and FDA approval. Studies have found that anywhere from 28 to 54 percent of autistic children receive “complementary and alternative medicine” (CAM), and these numbers probably understate CAM usage.

Doherty, M., Foley, KR. & Schloss, J. Complementary and Alternative Medicine for Autism – A Systematic Review. J Autism Dev Disord (2024).

Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) is a therapeutic option currently used by autistic people with continued interest and uptake. There remains limited evidence regarding the efficacy of CAM use in autism. The aim of this systematic review is to comprehensively review published clinical trials to explore the efficacy of CAM in autism. A systematic literature review of available research published from June 2013 to March 2023 was conducted. Our literature search identified 1826 eligible citations, and duplications removed (n = 694) with 102 articles eligible for title/abstract screening. After full text review, 39 studies were included. The results of this systematic review identified that for autistic people, vitamin and mineral supplements may only be of benefit if there is a deficiency. The results also found that the main interventions used were dietary interventions and nutraceuticals, including targeted supplements, vitamins and minerals, omega 3 s and prebiotics, probiotics and digestive enzymes. The evidence does not support some of the most frequently utilised dietary interventions, such as a Gluten Free Casein Free (GFCF) diet, and the use of targeted nutraceutical supplements may be of benefit, but more conclusive research is still required to direct safe and effective treatment.