Up to 75 percent of children with autism may try alternative treatments for the developmental disorder, but the efficacy and safety of those treatments is uncertain, according to a newspaper investigation.

Children are undergoing treatments ranging from the infusion of a blood product to spending time in pressurized oxygen chambers to chelation therapy. The treatments are often pushed by doctors who say that while more research is necessary, something must be done now to address the growing number of children diagnosed with autism. Many of these doctors are affiliated with the group Defeat Autism Now! and claim they have “recovered” kids with the disorder.

Meanwhile, critics argue that these techniques amount to mere experiments on vulnerable children. Chelation, in particular, raises red flags, they say. The treatments involve the use of chemicals to rid the body of metals like lead and mercury. In Pennsylvania, a 5-year-old with autism died while undergoing chelation and the federal government halted a planned study on the practice after it was discovered that chelation led to a decline in cognitive and emotional functioning in rats, reports The Chicago Tribune. To read more click here.

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