Wednesday, January 16, 2013
Dear Ms. Pittman:
We want to thank you for your informative piece on the ineffectiveness of chelation therapy in children with autism–particularly its emphasis on the risks involved and the lack of scientific support (“Chelation Doesn’t Help Kids with Autism,” December 21, 2012). You accurately summarized the current status of chelation as an autism intervention, and we greatly appreciated your quote cautioning parents against choosing a non-scientific treatment for their children, especially when family resources are limited.
If conducting an Internet search on autism treatments, families may currently find over 400 types of suggested so-called therapies. Chelation is one of these choices, and as you reiterated, has not only been found to be an ineffective treatment for autism, but also carries with it numerous health risks of which many parents are unaware. Sickness and even death may occur in those individuals who receive chelation in an unregulated manner.
Although chelation has some legitimate uses, such as treating children with lead poisoning or certain types of cancer or heart disease, its lack of evidence in treating children with autism is a concern we take very seriously. As stated in your article, a chelation package may typically cost a family $2,000-$5,000. Parents eager to help their children often spend money on interventions which claim to be effective when unfortunately they are not, and these financial resources could be used towards proven, science-based autism treatment.
As an organization committed to science, the Association for Science in Autism Treatment (ASAT) applauds your use of evidence in supporting your message. We commend you for disseminating accurate information on the health risks and unproven outcomes of chelation therapy for individuals with autism. It is ASAT’s mission to continue providing parents and families of individuals affected with autism information which guides them towards science-based treatment, and we are thankful to have partners in the media.
Lauren Schnell, MEd, BCBA and Daniela Fazzio, PhD, BCBA-D
Association for Science in Autism Treatment