Several uncontrolled studies of hyperbaric treatment in children with autism have reported clinical improvements; however, this treatment has not been evaluated to date with a controlled study. BMC Pediatrics performed a multicenter, randomized, double-blind, controlled trial to assess the efficacy of hyperbaric treatment in children with autism.
62 children with autism recruited from 6 centers, ages 2-7 years (mean 4.92+/-1.21), were randomly assigned to 40 hourly treatments of either hyperbaric treatment at 1.3 atmosphere (atm) and 24% oxygen (“treatment group”, n=33) or slightly pressurized room air at 1.03 atm and 21% oxygen (“control group”, n=29). Outcome measures included Clinical Global Impression (CGI) scale, Aberrant Behavior Checklist (ABC), and Autism Treatment Evaluation Checklist (ATEC).
Children with autism who received hyperbaric treatment at 1.3 atm and 24% oxygen for 40 hourly sessions had significant improvements in overall functioning, receptive language, social interaction, eye contact, and sensory/cognitive awareness compared to children who received slightly pressurized room air. Trial Registration: clinicaltrials.gov NCT00335790.