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The plight of a four-year-old boy who virtually died after his parents gave him 12 alternative medicines has inspired doctors to warn against the treatments.

Doctors at Newham Hospital in east London said the parents were “devastated” that their good intents had stimulated him so unwell.

The boy took a dozen supplements supposedly to help treat his autism.

The National Autistic Society said it was crucial for doctors to talk through the risks of alternative therapies.

The boy developed a potentially life-threatening condition after taking supplements from a naturopath( natural health practitioner) for a number of months, which included vitamin D, camel’s milk, silver and Epsom bath salts.

He was admitted to A& E after losing 6.5 lbs( 3kg) over three weeks, suffered by symptoms including vomiting and extreme thirst.

Image copyright Science Photo Library Image caption ‘Often mothers think that supplements are natural, safe…but this is not true in many cases’

Dr Catriona Boyd and Dr Abdul Moodambail, writing in the British Medical Journal Case Reports , said it was not until the boy had been at Newham Hospital, which is part of St Bart’s Health Trust, for several days that his mother told them about the holistic supplements.

Dr Moodambail told the BBC: “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 effect 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, building the child quite unwell and this can even be fatal as well.”

The boy made a full recovery in 2 week after being treated with hyperhydration and medications to reduce his calcium level.

What are complementary and alternative therapies?

Complementary and alternative medications( CAMs) are treatments that fall outside of mainstream healthcare Generally when a non-mainstream practise is used together with conventional medication, it is considered “complementary” When a non-mainstream practice is used instead of conventional medication, it is considered “alternative” Examples of CAMS include homeopathy, acupuncture, osteopathy, chiropractic and herbal medications Some complementary and alternative medications or therapies are based on principles and an proof base that are not recognised by the majority of independent scientists Others have been proven to work for a limited number of health conditions, such as osteopathy, chiropractic and acupuncture for treating lower back ache When a person use any health therapy – including a CAM – and experiences an improvement, this may be due to the placebo effect Osteopaths and chiropractors are regulated in the same way as mainstream medical professionals There is no statutory professional regulation of any other CAM practitioners

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