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    Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder that affects 0.6%-1.7% of children. The etiology of autism is hypothesized to include both biological and environmental factors (Watts, 2008). In addition to the core symptoms of social-communication delay and restricted, repetitive interests, co-occurring irritability/aggression, hyperactivity, and insomnia negatively impact adaptive functioning and quality of life of patients and families. Despite years of effort, no pharmacologic agent has been found that targets the core symptoms of ASD. The only FDA-approved agents are risperidone and aripiprazole for agitation and irritability in ASD, not for core symptoms. Though they effectively reduce irritability/violence, they do so at the expense of problematic side effects: metabolic syndrome, elevated liver enzymes, and extrapyramidal side effects. Thus, it is not surprising that many families of children with ASD turn to nonallopathic treatment, including dietary interventions, vitamins, and immunomodulatory agents subsumed under complementary-integrative medicine (CIM). Per recent studies, 27% to 88% of families report using a CIM treatment. In an extensive population-based survey of CIM, families of children with more severe ASD, comorbid irritability, GI symptoms, food allergies, seizures, and higher parental education tend to use CIM at higher rates. The perceived safety of CIM treatments as "natural treatment" over allopathic medication increases parental comfort in using these agents. The most frequently used CIM treatments include multivitamins, an elimination diet, and Methyl B12 injections. Those perceived most effective are sensory integration, melatonin, and antifungals. Practitioners working with these families should improve their knowledge about CIM as parents currently perceive little interest in and poor knowledge of CIM by physicians. This article reviews the most popular complementary treatments preferred by families with children with autism. With many of them having limited or poor quality data, clinical recommendations about the efficacy and safety of each treatment are discussed using the SECS versus RUDE criteria. Copyright © 2022 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


    Pankhuree Vandana, Deborah R Simkin, Robert L Hendren, L Eugene Arnold. Autism Spectrum Disorder and Complementary-Integrative Medicine. Child and adolescent psychiatric clinics of North America. 2023 Apr;32(2):469-494

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    PMID: 37147047

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