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Keywords:

  • neurodevelopmental disorders;
  • cerebral palsy;
  • neuroethics;
  • hyperbaric oxygen therapy;
  • stem cell;
  • unproven treatments;
  • pediatric neurology;
  • best interests

Abstract

Faced with the limitations of currently available mainstream medical treatments and interventions, parents of children with neurodevelopmental disorders often seek information about unproven interventions. These interventions frequently have undetermined efficacy and uncertain safety profiles. In this article, we present a general background and case vignettes that highlight the use of hyperbaric oxygen chambers and stem cells in cerebral palsy, the leading cause of pediatric physical disability. We then review the current evidence about these interventions as exemplars of unproven therapies. Building on the background and cases, we explore and review two important questions related to unproven interventions: (1) How should clinicians respond to requests for innovative and alternative interventions? (2) What should clinicians keep in mind when such requests come from online sources? © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Dev Disabil Res Rev 2011; 17:19–26.