Friday, April 3, 2009

Hyperbaric Oxygen and Autism

BMC Pediatriccs has published an interesting study on hyperbaric treatment for children with autism. According to the authors of this study, this is the first randomized, double blind controlled trial using hyperbaric oxygen in children with autism. The study had 62 children with autism ages 2-7 years old. The treatment group consisted of 33 children who received hyperbaric oxygen at 1.3 atmosphere (atm) and 24% oxygen. The control group was 29 children who received slightly pressurized room air and 21% oxygen (room air oxygen rate). Both groups received treatments 2x/day for 60 minutes for 5 days/week over 4 weeks. This totalled 40 sessions. The results indicated significant improvements for the treatment group (1.3 atm with 24% oxygen) compared to the control group in the following areas:

1. Overall functioning, receptive language, social interaction and eye contact on the Physician scored Clinical Global Impression Scale
2. Overall functioning, receptive language and eye contact on the Parent scored Clinical Global Impression Scale
3. Total score, irritability, stereotypy, hyperactivity and speech on the Autism Behavior Checklist (larger differences seen in irritability)
4. Sensory/ cognitive awareness on the Autism Treatment Evaluation Checklist (ATEC).


Additional results indicated that children over the age of 5 and children with lower autism severity exhibited greater improvements from the hyperbaric oxygen treatments. This study did not follow the long term benefits of the treatments.

For pediatric therapists, this information provides updated information on the potential benefits of hyperbaric oxygen for children with autism. The significant improvements in sensory/ cognitive awareness is promising. Although, the ATEC section on sensory/ cognitive awareness is very general. Some of the sensory/ cognitive components listed on the test are: danger awareness, initiation of activity, exploration of environment, curiosity, dressing self, does drawing/ art, plays appropriately and more.

In addition, the health section on the ATEC also includes some sensory items such as sound sensitivities, food habits, hyperactive, decreased pain awareness and more. There was no difference seen on the health section of the ATEC.

To view the full study go to BMC Pediatrics.

Reference: Hyperbaric treatment for children with autism: a multicenter, randomized, double-blind, controlled trial Daniel A Rossignol , Lanier W Rossignol , Scott Smith , Cindy Schneider , Sally Logerquist , Anju Usman , Jim Neubrander , Eric M Madren , Gregg Hintz , Barry Grushkin and Elizabeth A Mumper BMC Pediatrics 2009, 9:21doi:10.1186/1471-2431-9-21

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