International Child Development Resource Center


Dan Rossignol*, Elizabeth Mumper, Jill James, Lanier Rossignol. *Department of Family Medicine, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia



Jun 02, 2006 Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder currently affecting as many as 1 out of 166 children in the United States. Multiple studies have found that some individuals with autism have diminished cerebral blood flow, especially of the temporal lobes. This cerebral hypoperfusion has been correlated with many of the core features associated with autism including repetitive, self-stimulatory and stereotypical behaviors, and impairments in communication, sensory perception, and social interaction. Autistic individuals also evidence gastrointestinal and neuro-inflammation, increased markers of oxidative stress, and a relative mitochondrial deficiency. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) has been used to treat conditions marked by diminished cerebral blood flow to overcome hypoperfusion through the increased delivery of oxygen. HBOT also demonstrates strong anti-inflammatory properties, might decrease oxidative stress, and can increase the production of mitochondria and circulating stem cells. Based upon these research findings, we hypothesized that HBOT would improve symptoms in autistic children.

Methods: 18 children with autism underwent 40 1-hour HBOT sessions at either 1.5 atmosphere absolute (ATA) and 100% oxygen, or 1.3 ATA and 24% oxygen. Results were calculated using the Aberrant Behavior Checklist, Social Responsiveness Scale, Autism Treatment Evaluation Checklist, and 2 other scales. Blood was drawn for inflammatory and oxidative stress profiles.

Results: Improvements in symptoms were noted on all 5 scales with significant improvements noted in lethargy, communication, motivation, mannerisms, speech, sensory and cognitive awareness, and overall health.

Conclusions: HBOT ameliorates some symptoms in autistic children in this prospective open label study. Further evaluation with a placebo-controlled study to verify these findings is indicated.

Dr. Dan Rossignol has accepted a position with the International Child Development Resource Center (ICDRC),, and has also recently joined the USAAA Scientific Advisory Board.