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Is Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy Effective For Treating Autism?


Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is characterized as a developmental disability caused by abnormalities in brain function. Studies link ASD with various physiological abnormalities, such as cerebral hypoperfusion, oxidative stress, inflammation, and mitochondrial dysfunction. Studies show that diminished blood flow to the brain demonstrates a connection between several core autistic behaviors, and the hypoperfusion generally worsen with age, growing more prevalent in older children. Although hyperbaric oxygen therapy (“HBOT”) is not yet approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration ) (“FDA”), several studies performed internationally have proven its efficacy in treating people with autism. Even so, the FDA does approve of its use for other medical conditions such as decompression sickness (the bends) experienced by divers, treatment of air or gas embolism, carbon monoxide poisoning , and thermal burns. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy chambers expose the patient to 100% oxygen (unlike the 21% oxygen found in the air we breathe) by increasing the air pressure in the chamber up to three times higher than normal air pressure of 1 atm. This allows the lungs to take in more than the expected amount of oxygen and thus be distributed throughout the body to the cells that are deprived of oxygen. This paper examines the effectiveness of HBOT in children with ASD, by reviewing the available research.



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