Clinics ‘peddling false hope for autism with potentially hazardous 14,000 cell therapy’ – Mirror Online

Clinics have been accused of peddling false hope to parents of autistic children with potentially hazardous treatment.

A Sunday People probe found dozens of private firms charging up to 14,000 for stem cell therapy, claiming it provides a whole range of benefits.

Clinics insist the treatment in which donor cells are fed into a patients bloodstream via a drip can help improve youngsters social skills, speech and concentration.

But there are counter-claims that the therapy is unproven, could be distressing for children and even cause them more harm than good.

One mum blasted adverts for it as horrifying while other parents who forked out huge sums of cash complained it had little effect.

One called the therapy a 99 per cent failure and another said: I spent a ton of money on my two kids and nothing happened.

Professor Richard Mills, consultant for non-profit AT-Autism, said: Stem cell therapy is regarded within the medical community as potentially quite hazardous and there isnt so far a reliable evidence base that would cause it to be recommended.

It is controversial and experimental and Im not aware of any independent studies which prove it works.

Prof Mills said parents should see the high costs, the absence of regulated independent trials and testimonials as red flags of caution.

He added there were also huge ethical issues linked to treating children who may lack the capacity to consent to it.

He said: Using an intravenous injection, an infusion of fluid goes into the brain, which is unpleasant at best and may be highly distressing and traumatic for an autistic child.

One in every 100 kids in the UK has some form of autism, for which there is no medical cure.

The clinics we found work on the disputed premise that autism is a neurological disorder with clear causes that can be altered by intervention.

Most say stem cells, which can develop into other types of bodily cells and renew themselves, will have a reparative effect on the brain.

Stem cells are approved for treating some blood conditions, skin grafts and cornea repairs but remain unproven in regard to autism.

Only after full clinical trials can procedures be declared safe and better than existing treatments.

Prof Mills went on: These practitioners attempt to interfere with the core symptoms of autism, as they put it, but the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence has said there are no proven ways of altering this.

The Autism Regenerative Centre in Marylebone, central London, claims to have given therapy to over 500 children since 2014 without complications and says 80 per cent of them showed improvement.

An online ad for the private clinic says its treatments pass beyond the limitations of conventional therapies. We found further clinics around the world advertising in English and welcoming patients of all nationalities.

Swiss Medica features an online testimonial from a British family whose autistic child was treated at its premises in Goldach, Switzerland.

The online clip shows Paul from Reading saying the treatment in the UK is not what we liked for his three-year-old autistic son, but that the family were now feeling more optimistic.

The Swiss clinics website claims conventional treatment methods for autism only smooth out the specific symptoms, targeting one or two of them, whereas stem cell therapy is an entirely new tool.

The Stem Cell Institute in Panama charges between 10,000 and 13,000 for four-day packages for children.

It says the therapy decreases inflammation in the brain which may alleviate autism symptoms.

German International Clinic in Frankfurt charges more than 14,000 for the procedure, which it says will be effective for just three to eight months and recommends follow-up sessions.

It lists improved communication ability and memory as benefits.

But Brit mum Emma Dalmayne, whose children Damien, 12, and Skylar, seven, are autistic, was disgusted by the ads.

Emma, 44, who is autistic herself and runs the Autistic Inclusive Meets group, said: Its horrifying that parents of vulnerable children are being presented with a medical procedure thats not scientifically proven.

There has to be regulation to stop this. Emma, of Woolwich, south-east London, begged families to invest in occupational and speech therapies instead.

She warned: If you go down the pseudo-science route, youll be encouraged to part with huge sums of money that could otherwise go towards a proven therapy.

One US mum who spent 30,000 on treatment for her two kids in Mexico with no results said she believed stem cell therapy was a scam.

The woman, a 52-year-old nurse from New York who took out loans to fund the treatment, was taken in by online testimonials.

But she said: Nothing happened, nothing at all. Its a money-maker there are a lot of desperate people out there.The National Autistic Society accused firms of exploiting parents.

Director of external affairs Jane Harris said she was not aware of any stem cell trials for autism, and added: Private companies are taking advantage of autistic people and their families, asking them to pay for unproven and even dangerous treatments.

Dr Jon Goldin, vice chair of the Child and Adolescent faculty at the Royal College of Psychiatrists, said: There is currently no known cure for autism nor is there any scientific evidence that stem cells can be used safely and effectively as a treatment.

Labour MP Jonathan Reynolds, vice chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on autism and father of an autistic son, said: It is incredibly worrying to hear that people might be being exploited when they are in such a vulnerable position.

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Clinics ‘peddling false hope for autism with potentially hazardous 14,000 cell therapy’ – Mirror Online