A review of studies on chelation treatment for autism spectrum disorders (ASDs), led by ASD institute fellow Tonya Davis of Baylor University and co-written by other institute researchers, is getting national attention. The review—”Chelation Treatment for Autism Spectrum Disorders: A Systematic Review,” which appears in the journal Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders—is the subject of a story by the Reuters wire service and an article in Forbes, among others. In turn, several news outlets have since picked up the Reuters story, including Yahoo! News and Fox News.
Chelation is a treatment to remove specific metals from the body. In recent years, chelation has been used as a treatment for ASDs. This review systematically identified studies that have evaluated the effects of chelation on the core symptoms of autism: communication impairments, social skills deficits, and repetitive and stereotyped behaviors. Four of the five studies identified found mixed results, and only one study reported positive results. Moreover, the studies contained many weaknesses that prevent the ability to attribute changes in participant characteristics or behaviors solely to chelation. Because of the limited number of studies and the significant limitations of these studies, the review did not find evidence to support the use of chelation as a treatment for ASDs.
ASD Institute Director Mark O’Reilly, postdoctoral fellow Soyeon Kang, and institute fellows Russell Lang and Mandy Rispoli co-wrote the review with Davis.