Chelation For Autism: Why Should Be Avoided

Chelation therapy is a series of intravenous infusions containing EDTA and various other substances. It is falsely claimed to be effective against autism, cardiovascular disease, and many other diseases and conditions. Because chelation has valid use in some cases of heavy metal poisoning, some practitioner falsely diagnoses lead, mercury, or other heavy metal toxicity to trick patients into undergoing chelation.

Doctors who advocate the use of chelation therapy should be avoided.


False Claim

Scientific True

Chelation for autism is controversial: somebody supports it somebody doesn’t There is absolute scienfic consensus that chelation therapy for autism  does not work and is harmful. It is only supported by known quacks and others who seem to have a financial stake in promoting it.
Only few doctors offer chelation for autism because it is a complex treatment. Chelation is a relatively common medical treatment and it is offered by many major hospitals, but it is not offered as a cure for autism because totally lacks scientific evidence and rationale
Chelation therapy should be provided for any child with BLL above five µg/dL.  These recommendations are unnecessary, reckless and irresponsible.  The absolute indication for medical treatment is for those in whom BLLs are 45 µg/dL.
Chelation can cure autism. Scientific evidence clearly shows that children treated with chelation therapy were equally as likely to have developmental delays and cognitive problems as children that did not receive any intervention.
Chelation is a safe treatment. Chelation can have extremely serious health risks, upt to death. During chelation close medical monitoring and evaluation of side effects is needed. It is doubtful that quacks that promote chelation for autism are adequately equipped to minimize risks.
Chelation does not have side effects. Side effects are very common and include: Burning sensation when injected into a vein, Headache, Nausea, Fall in blood pressure, Low blood calcium, Cardiac Arrhythmias, Depression of the bone marrow leading to low counts of red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets. This can lead to anemia and infections. Kidney damage and failure leading to end stage renal disease requiring dialysis. Liver damage may be seen with some chelating agents and some patients may develop liver failure. Damage to the brain leading to a decline in cognitive function. Vitamins and vital nutrients may leave the body along with the heavy metal. This can be a particular problem among children who require adequate levels of nutrients for normal growth and development. In addition, vitamin supplements may not always replenish the loss of vital nutrients caused by long term chelation therapy.


Essential Reading:

Dubious Mercury Testing – Robert Baratz, M.D., D.D.S., Ph.D. 

Why Chelation Therapy Should Be Avoided –

Autism treatment to remove metals is unproven and risky

Chelation doesn’t help kids with autism: study – Reuters

Chelation – Raising Children Australia

James S, Stevenson SW, Silove N, Williams K. Chelation for autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2015, Issue 5. 

Is chelation therapy an effective autism treatment? – Answer From Jay L. Hoecker, M.D.

Chelation and Autism – Research Autism

What Is Chelation Therapy? – WebMD

Chelation Therapy – Fad Treatment With Real Risks – American Council on Science and Health


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