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APA: Fad Treatments for Autism on the Rise

Researchers warn against unproven and possibly dangerous diets, supplements and therapies

MONDAY, Aug. 20 (HealthDay News) -- Fad treatments for autism -- none of them proven and some potentially dangerous -- are gaining in popularity, according to research presented this week an the annual convention of the American Psychological Association in San Francisco.

James Mulick, Ph.D., of Ohio State University in Columbus, chaired a symposium entitled "Outrageous Developmental Disabilities Treatments" during which several of his graduate students gave presentations.

One student conducted a Google search for "autism treatment" and found 2.2 million matches, hundreds of different therapies, and testimonials from parents about therapies that "cured" their children. Among the most popular alternative therapies: megadoses of vitamins C and B6; fish-oil supplements containing omega-3 fatty acids; and casein- and/or gluten-free diets intended for patients with celiac disease.

Although some such therapies may have a minimal amount of scientific basis, none have been proved to work and some -- such as chelation therapy -- could be dangerous, the researchers said.

"For now, early intensive behavioral intervention is the only therapy that has been associated with long-term beneficial effects in autism," Mulick said in a statement.

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