Pediatricians and families are being urged to think twice before going forward with a handful of clinical tests for kids with autism and other disabilities.

The American Academy of Pediatrics says that the tests have the potential to do more harm than good.

Specifically, the association for pediatricians across the nation says there is no need to test urine in children with autistic behaviors for metals and minerals or to analyze hair for “environmental toxins” in kids with behavioral or developmental disorders including autism.

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The advice comes as part of a broader initiative called “Choosing Wisely” that promotes evidence-based health care that’s truly necessary and that is free of duplication and harm. The current recommendations related to children and environmental health were put together by the American Academy of Pediatrics’ Council on Environmental Health.

In addition to the suggestions related to those with autism and other developmental disorders, the pediatrics group said that “chelation challenge” urinary analyses should not be used for children with suspected lead poisoning and mold sensitivity testing should only be for kids with clear allergy or asthma symptoms.

And, the recommendations indicate that in most cases pediatricians should not use measurements of environmental chemicals in blood or urine to make clinical decisions.

“Every day, we come into contact with chemicals that are in our food, air, water, soil, dust or the products we use. Not all of these are bad or cause for concern, and ultimately, it’s stronger regulatory practices that are most important for minimizing our exposure to harmful chemicals,” said Dr. Aparna Bole, chair of the American Academy of Pediatrics’ Council on Environmental Health. “Tests or treatments that claim to diagnose childhood diseases based on chemical measurements may be misleading or based on a false premise. Pediatricians can help address parents’ concerns about chemical exposures, and we encourage parents to talk with their pediatricians before pursuing any of these tests.”

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