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Autism and Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy

Written by Olivia Cerf, FoundHealth.

Effect of Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy on Autism

In healthy people, Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) has been shown to enhance neurological function, improving attention, reaction times, and word recall. It is now being explored in the treatment of autistic children.

Read more details about Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy.

Research Evidence on Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy

In a study on 18 children with autism between the ages of 3 and 16, biological and behavioral markers were measured. The biological markers in question were oxidative stress and inflammation, conditions that usually exists concurrently with autism.
After 40 HBOT treatments, significant improvements were measured in irritability, social withdrawal, hyperactivity, motivation, speech, and sensory/cognitive awareness.1

Possible Complications

If you are planning to have HBOT, your doctor will review a list of possible complications, which may include:

  • Mild discomfort
  • Nearsightedness (myopia), which can last for weeks or months
  • Sinus damage, ruptured middle ear, or lung damage
  • Damage to the ear drum (tympanic membrane)
  • Oxygen toxicity, which can cause seizures , fluid in the lungs, or respiratory failure
  • Worsening symptoms or increased risk for lung problems in people with congestive heart failure or lung disease

Be sure to discuss these risks with your doctor before the procedure. The safety of HBOT has not been tested on patients with seizure disorders.

Call Your Doctor

After you leave the hospital, contact your doctor if any of the following occurs:

  • Discomfort or pain in your sinuses or ears
  • Onset of seizures
  • Vision problems
  • Cough, shortness of breath, or chest pain

In case of an emergency, CALL 911.


1Rossignol Daniel et al. “The effects of hyperbaric oxygen therapy on oxidative stress, inflammation, and symptoms in children with autism: an open-label pilot study”. BMC Pediatrics 7, no. 36 (2007).

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