Hyperbaric Oxygen Improves Autism in Children
Children with autism spectrum disorder showed significant improvement in their overall functioning, receptive language, eye contact, sensory/cognitive awareness and social interactions with hyperbaric oxygen treatment. Dr. Daniel A. Rossignol, the lead author of the study and father of two autistic children, published these results in the March 2009 issue of the open-access internet journal BioMed Central Pediatrics.
What is Hyperbaric Oxygen and Why Does it Help Brain Disorders?
Room air is 21% oxygen at a pressure of 1 atmosphere. Prior studies on autism had children inhaling up to 100% oxygen at pressures up to 2.0 atmospheres. It may also aid autism by helping the immune system work well.
Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy with 24 % Oxygen at 1.3 Atmospheres of Pressure helped Children with Autism
Dr. Rossignol and colleagues studied 59 children aged 2-7 with documented autism spectrum disorder. Thirty children received 40 hourly treatments with 24% oxygen at 1.3 atmospheres of pressure. Twenty-nine additional children with autism were used as the untreated group (control group). 1.3 atmospheres is 30 % higher pressure than at sea level and is roughly equivalent to being submerged in 10 feet of water. The children receiving placebo treatment were placed in a hyperbaric chamber and received room air (21 % oxygen) at 1.03 atmospheres.
80% of children in the treatment arm improved, compared to 28% of children in the placebo group. Traditionally, there is a significant placebo response in a autism studies, because families have a strong desire to find a treatment that helps their children.
Validated autism scales were used to rate the children’s responses. Utilizing the Aberrant Behavior Checklist (ABC), children with hyperbaric oxygen treatment improved in repetitive movements, irritability, speech and hyperactivity. On the Autism Treatment Evaluation Checklist (ATEC), sensory/cognitive awareness improved. On the Clinical Global Impression Scale (CGI), overall improvement and improvement in eye contact was noted, children with the mildest cases of autism and children older than 5 years of age benefited most from hyperbaric oxygen treatment. Hyperbaric oxygen treatment was safe and well tolerated by the children in this study.
Home Hyperbaric Oxygen Units Approved by Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for 1.3 Atmospheres Pressure
Pauline Anderson interviewed Dr. Rossignol for April 2009’s Medscape Medical News. Dr. Rossignol is quoted as saying that the researchers chose to study a pressure of 1.3 atm because the Food and Drug Administration has approved home units that provide these oxygen pressures. Portable hyperbaric chambers cost $4000 for a small unit and up to $17,000 for a chamber that can be used by 2 to 3 patients at a time. Hyperbaric chambers can be rented for approximately $2000-$3000/month.