Recently, two popular supplements in the autism community have come under scrutiny. The first is Oxidative Stress Relief (OSR) and the other is the “speak” supplement. Whether or not these products are good, bad or indifferent is debatable. The real issue at hand is the vulnerability of the autism community in general.
On the one hand, parents are willing to take calculated risks on novel treatments. The option of trying something that has “supplement” status is weighed against the possibility of having a child with a life-long sentence of autism. This, to me, is understandable. At what point, however, do we draw the line? These children do not have the time to wait for the FDA to do multi-centered, double blind, randomized control trials on treatments—that takes years. Nor can the families with an affected child wait for the great causation debate to be settled.
Conversely, we cannot forget the supreme edict of pediatrics….”children are not little adults,” meaning they have a physiology and biochemistry that is unique to them. At the very least, dosages need to be weight specific (the issue with the speak supplement) and the ingredients need to scrutinized to be natural like the word “supplement” connotes.
I am not sure exactly where the middle ground lies. Perhaps, the physician groups in the world of autism need to come up with an endorsement that shows that at least the ingredients and the dosages are safe for children. Maybe they could use a grading system that would delineate the products that solely have anecdotal evidence as opposed to those that have undergone human trials. This way, parents and physicians are aware of the risk.
In general, the biomedical community has gotten a lot of bad press lately, is this maybe a sign that it is time to come together and self-regulate?
National Integrated Health Associates, NIHA, is a leading integrative medicine and dental center serving Washington D.C., Maryland and Virginia, and offers individualized holistic and integrative therapies for autism spectrum disorders.