Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) and especially so-called mild HBOT (inflatable bags) are widely used off-label to treat
autism at independent clinics and at home. Proponents hypothesize that HBOT enhances or restores neurologic function by oxygenating
the brain or flushing toxins from cells, blood, tissues, and organs. The clinical evidence in the peer-reviewed medical literature
does not support this physiologic rationale or the use of HBOT to treat autism spectrum disorder. The
US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) mentions autism specifically in its
about the potential dangers of using hyperbaric oxygen therapy to treat off-label conditions.
People living with autism, beware. Perhaps no patient community today is so beset by healthcare fraud and quackery. Hyperbaric
oxygen therapy has gotten caught up in a powerful movement away from evidence-based practice and toward alternative therapists
promising miracle cures. Their claims are as wild as their HBOT is mild. What thin evidence we have on HBOT for autism (see
Rossignol, et al, 2012)
is fraught with contradictions and undercut by investigator bias. Thankfully, patients and families can turn to a growing network
of trustworthy autism educators and caregivers. The first signs of ASD typically emerge before age 3. Early diagnosis is the key to
success with evidence-based autism therapy, including applied behavior analysis (ABA) and other proven methodologies.
Given the absence of published results from controlled, double-blind studies by research hospitals and the solidified doubt
in the scientific community about the quality of other research, we see no substantial basis for moving the Evidence Index
rating for autism beyond None.