A FOUR-YEAR-OLD boy ended up in A&E after and almost died after his parents gave him 12 alternative medicines, leading doctors to warn against such treatments.
He was admitted to Newham Hospital in east London after developing a fatal condition and losing 6.5lbs (3kg) in just three weeks. He has since made a full recovery.
The parents are said to be devastated after the boy was given supplements from a naturopath (natural health practitioner) over the course of a number of months, intended to treat his autism.
The supplements included Epsom bath salts, camel’s milk, silver and vitamin D.
Writing in the British Medical Journal Case Reports, Dr Catriona Boyd and Dr Abdul Moodambail said that the mother did not disclose this information until the boy had been in hospital for several days.
Speaking to the BBC, Dr Moodambail said: “This happens on many occasions with other patients as well.
“Often the parents think that these supplements are natural, safe and do not cause any side effects or adverse effects, but this is not true in many cases like this.”
He added: “The situation was stark because the child developed vitamin D toxicity leading to very high calcium levels, making the child quite unwell and this can even be fatal as well.
“This is a common situation because there is no definite curative treatment in some of these long-term conditions such as Autism Spectrum Disorder.
“When some complementary and alternative therapies are suggesting they can cure these situations, these parents get a hope - which is probably a false hope.”
Now the Autism Society has said that doctors must make patients aware of the risks of alternative medicines, mainly due to the lack of regulation surrounding them.
The society’s director of external affairs, Jane Harris, said this case showed how “desperately difficult life can get for families affected by autism especially just before and after receiving diagnoses”.
She added: “Most of us know very little about autism until it affects someone we love and it can be hard for individuals and their families to find good, reliable information about autism.
“This leaves many families feeling vulnerable and in desperation - some may consider using unproven and potentially harmful alternative therapies.
“This awful case shows we need more professionals in place to give families accurate advice and talk to them about what really helps and how to find the right support.
“It’s crucial that doctors and healthcare professionals take the concerns of families seriously and are able to talk through the potential risks of alternative therapies, even when they might seem harmless.”