Recently, hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) has increased in popularity as a treatment for autism. Numerous studies document oxidative stress and inflammation in individuals with autism; both of these conditions have demonstrated improvement with Hyperbaric therapy or HBOT, along with enhancement of neurological function and cognitive performance.
You might be familiar with hyperbaric oxygen treatment, in which a patient breathes in extra oxygen while inside a pressurized chamber, as a therapy for the bends and carbon monoxide poisoning. But while a small segment of families with autistic children believe it helps their kids, insurance generally doesn’t pay for it, and many doctors are skeptical that it does any good.
New research in today’s BMC Pediatrics may give the hyperbaric therapy more credibility as a treatment for autism. The randomized, double-blind controlled study of 62 children found that those who received 40 hours of hyperbaric treatment over a month were less irritable, more responsive when people spoke to them, made more eye contact and were more sociable than kids who didn’t receive it.
They were also less sensitive to noise (some autistic children experience a kind of sensory overload from loud sounds and background noise). The most improvement was observed in kids older than five (the study included children ages two to seven) who had milder autism.
In various hyperbaric treatment research and study, children with autism are treated with HBOT in hyperbaric chambers at atmospheric pressures and oxygen concentrations in current use for this condition. Changes in markers of oxidative stress and inflammation are measured. The children are evaluated to determine clinical effects and safety.