Complementary and alternative medicine (
The objective of this study is to determine the frequency of CAM treatments in a large ASD registry, and identify factors associated with the use of CAM treatments.
Children and adolescents with a diagnosis of ASD (autism, Asperger disorder, or PDD-NOS) confirmed by ADOS, age 2 – 18 years were enrolled into the Autism Treatment Network (ATN) Registry which collects data on children with ASD at 14 sites across the US and Canada. Upon entry into the registry, parents completed a medical history questionnaire including use of
Results: 201 (17%) of 1,212 children were on special diets. Of the 201 children, 53% were on a casein free diet, 53% were on an “other diet”. 19% of children diagnosed with Autism, 7% of children diagnosed with Asperger’s, and 14% of children diagnosed with PDD/NOS were on a special diet (P = 0.004 on chi-squared test.)We examined the relationship between GI and sleep problems and special diet use. Using a p-value of 0.001 as evidence of an association (Bonferroni adjusted for multiple looks) children with GI problems were more likely to be on any special diet and specifically were more likely to be on casein free/gluten free, no processed sugars, and “other” diets. No significant association was found for sleep problems. Approximately 21% of children received one or more complementary alternative treatments. 22% of children diagnosed with Autism, 20% of children diagnosed with Asperger’s, and 19% of children diagnosed with PDD/NOS received one or more CAM treatments. The most common treatment across the three diagnoses was taking other types of vitamins. 12% of children are taking 2 or more CAM treatments. Children with GI problems were more likely to be on any
CAM treatments for children with ASD are common. Children with autism were more likely to be receiving special diets than children with Asperger’s or PDD-NOS. Children with GI symptoms were more likely to be receiving CAM treatments in the form of special diets, digestive enzymes, other vitamins or probiotics. Health care providers should be aware of CAM use in patients with ASD and help families monitor their child’s response to these treatments.