Wednesday, 9 October 2002
Dáil Eireann Debate
894. Mr. J. Bruton asked the Minister for Health and Children his policy in regard to the systematic testing of children who have given indications of autistic tendencies for mineral imbalances in their systems, which could, if remedied, inhibit the development of autism. [15410/02]
Minister for Health and Children (Mr. Martin): There is no universally accepted policy for  screening children with autism for a variety of hypothetical disorders. The quality standards sub-committee of the American Academy of Neurology – approved 9 June 2000 – states as regards diagnostic testing:
There is inadequate supporting evidence for hair analysis, coeliac antibodies, allergy testing (particularly food allergies for gluten, casein, candida and other molds), immunologic or neurochemical abnormalities, micronutriants such as vitamin levels, intestinal permeability studies, stool analysis, urinary peptides, mitochondrial disorders (including lactate and pyruvate), thyroid function tests, or erythrocyte flurathione peroxidase studies.
As with all areas of medical practice, however, continuous evaluation of emerging evidence is undertaken by practitioners and new diagnostic tests of proven value are constantly being added to the range of tests already available across the entire spectrum of medical practice. My Department, together with the relevant professional bodies, regularly reviews progress in this and other areas of medical practice.
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