There is a low occurrence of side effects when chelation is used at the dose and infusion rates approved by the U.S. FDA as a treatment for heavy metal poisoning. A burning sensation at the site of delivery into the vein is common. Other side effects include fever, headache, nausea, stomach upset, vomiting, convulsions, bone marrow depression (dropping blood cell counts), a drop in blood pressure, cardiac arrhythmias, respiratory arrest, and hypocalcemia. Other concerns include kidney failure, which can require permanent life-limiting and expensive dialysis, or cause death.
2007 research with lab rats indicates giving chelating agent DMSA to rats ''without'' high levels of lead may cause lasting cognitive damage.
When EDTA is not administered by a health professional for the treatment of heavy metal poisoning more serious side effects can occur. Only the 3-year-old girl had been medically assessed and found to have an elevated blood lead level and resulting low iron levels and anemia, a proper medical cause for chelation therapy to be conducted.
More than 30 deaths have been recorded in association with IV-administered disodium EDTA since the 1970s.
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