- ASD —
- autism spectrum disorder
Parents of newly diagnosed children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are faced with a dizzying array of treatments that promise to improve their child’s autism symptoms, cognitive and language abilities, and health. Desperate to leave no stone unturned as they strive to help their child have the best possible future, many parents spend countless hours and large amounts of money on unproven therapies. Unfortunately, as the 2 systematic reviews published in this issue of Pediatrics describe, the scientific field has not done enough to provide definitive answers about the effectiveness of many commonly used treatments.
The first article, by Sathe et al1 (“Nutritional and Dietary Interventions for Autism Spectrum Disorder: A Systematic Review”), provides a detailed review of studies on the effects of various supplements, including omega-3 fatty acids, digestive enzymes, methyl-B12, levocarnitine, and gluten- or casein-free diets. The results of the existing studies were mixed, with some studies finding positive results and others finding no benefit. The available studies are small and short-term, precluding any definitive answer about whether nutritional supplements or dietary therapies are helpful for children with ASD. This is unfortunate in light of the fact that special diets and dietary supplements are the most commonly used complementary and alternative treatment by children and adolescents …
Address correspondence to Geraldine Dawson, PhD, 2608 Erwin Rd, Suite 300, Durham, NC 27705. E-mail: