The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a advisory statement warning the public against the use of hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) for Autism 22 August 2013. The action, which also notes concern about other unproven uses of HBOT, apparently was predicated on the FDA’s receipt of multiple complaints from consumers, and it is consistent with long-standing concerns about this therapy that I have raised here on EBD Blog: 17 October 2008, 21 March 2009, 17 August 2009, 12 November 2009, 18 November 2009, 21 November 2009.
After noting that HBOT has legitimate uses (e.g., treating “the bends” or decompression sickness in deep-sea divers), the FDA statement provided explicit declarations of concern:
HBOT has not, however, been proven to be the kind of universal treatment it has been touted to be on some Internet sites. FDA is concerned that some claims made by treatment centers using HBOT may give consumers a wrong impression that could ultimately endanger their health.
“Patients may incorrectly believe that these devices have been proven safe and effective for uses not cleared by FDA, which may cause them to delay or forgo proven medical therapies,” says Nayan Patel, a biomedical engineer in FDA’s Anesthesiology Devices Branch. “In doing so, they may experience a lack of improvement and/or worsening of their existing condition(s).”
Read the FDA’s “Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy: Don’t Be Misled.”
Update (~10 AM, 24 Aug 2013): Hooray! This story is getting press:
- Emily Willingham had a note about it on Forbes;
- Matt Carey of Left Brain/Right Brain, reprinted the announcement;
- Mary Conneely over on Examiner.com has a piece, too;
- The Austism Science Foundation posted a brief note about it;
- Over on Disability Scoop there’s a story (though I didn’t see a link back to the FDA press statement);
- John Pitney of Autism Policy Blog has a post referring to the FDA statement, too.