Hyperbaric oxygen therapy treatment ineffective for children with autism

Research conducted by the Center for Autism and Related Disorders, Inc. (CARD), shines new light on the effects of a popular form of hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) treatment for children with autism and related disorders. The "Randomized Trial of Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy for Children with Autism" study reveals that HBOT, consisting of 24% oxygen delivered at 1.3 atmospheres of pressure, does not have a significant effect on symptoms of autism. This study was led by Doreen Granpeesheh, PhD, BCBA-D; Jonathan Tarbox, PhD, BCBA-D; Dennis R. Dixon, PhD; Arthur E. Wilke; Michael S. Allen, PsyD; and James Jeffrey Bradstreet, MD, MD (H), FAAFP. It is published in the current issue of Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders.

Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs) are characterized by the presence of impaired development in social interaction and communication and the presence of a restricted repertoire of activity and interests. While numerous treatments for ASDs have been proposed, very few have been subjected to rigorous scientific investigation.

HBOT has been recently popularized as a treatment for the symptoms of ASDs. The purpose of this study was to test the hypothesis that HBOT would have a beneficial effect on ASD symptoms in the context of a double-blind placebo-controlled trial.

This randomized double-blind placebo-controlled trial compared HBOT used to deliver 24% oxygen at 1.3 atmospheric pressure (n = 18) to placebo (n = 16) in children with Autistic Disorder. Both direct observational measures of behaviors symptomatic of autism and standardized psychological assessments were used to evaluate the effects of the treatment.

CARD researchers found no differences between HBOT and placebo groups across any of the outcome measures. The present study demonstrates that HBOT delivered at 24% oxygen at 1.3 atmospheric pressure does not result in a clinically significant improvement in the symptoms of Autistic Disorder.


Center for Autism and Related Disorders, Inc.


  1. Jeff Birnberg Jeff Birnberg United Kingdom says:

    This study is faulted, and from experience it is so by design. The study utilised 24% Oxygen at 1.3 ata chamber pressure by bleeding the  O2 into the chamber while running the compressor. The study should  have had the occupant breath "Oxygen" seperate from the air pressurising the chamber, and not just a 24% blend. The picture of the chamber that was part of the article was of a Performance Hyperbaric chamber which does not pressurise with oxygen but rather with air with O2 provided via a demand or non-breather mask; much much more effective. This study was probobly politically motivated; regardless, from a scientific perspective, it was, in my opinion, a farce!

  2. Inger Öhman Inger Öhman Sweden says:

    My son does great improvement after doing HBOT in 100% oxygen in higher pressure than 1.3 ATA.

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