A public announcement from Autism Speaks provides information about the signs of autism. (Ad Council for Autism Speaks/TNS)
Pediatricians and families are urged to think twice before going ahead with a handful of clinical tests for children with autism and other disabilities.
The American Academy of Pediatrics says the tests have the potential to do more harm than good.
In particular, the Association of Pediatricians Across the Country says there is no need to test urine in children with autistic behavior for metals and minerals or to analyze hair for “environmental toxins” in children with behavioral or developmental disabilities, including autism.
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The advice is part of a wider initiative called “Choose Wisely” that promotes evidence-based healthcare that is truly necessary and free of duplication and harm. The current recommendations regarding children and environmental health were prepared by the American Academy of Pediatrics’ Council on Environmental Health.
In addition to suggestions regarding people with autism and other developmental disabilities, the pediatric group said “chelation challenge” urine analyzes should not be used for children with suspected lead poisoning and mold sensitivity tests should only be used for children with obvious allergy or asthma symptoms. .
And the recommendations indicate that in most cases, pediatricians should not use measurements of environmental chemicals in blood or urine to make clinical decisions.
“Every day we come into contact with chemicals that are in our food, air, water, soil, dust or the products we use. These are not all bad or cause for concern, and ultimately it is stricter regulatory practices that are most important in minimizing our exposure to harmful chemicals,” said Dr. Aparna Bole, president of the American Academy of Pediatrics’ Council on Environmental Health. “Tests or treatments that claim to diagnose childhood diseases based on chemical measurements can be misleading or based on a wrong premise. Pediatricians can help allay parents’ concerns about chemical exposure, and we encourage parents to talk to their pediatricians before doing any of these tests.”