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Archive for the ‘controversial procedures’ Category

Government crackdown on autism ‘therapies’

Thursday, October 14th, 2010

From the Chicago Tribune, ABC News, Washington Post

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has warned eight companies to stop marketing unproven over-the-counter chelation”therapies” as treatments for autism, cardiovascular diseases, Alzheimer’s and other conditions. The products’ distributors have claimed they cure a range of diseases by removing heavy metals from the body.

“These products are dangerously misleading because they are targeted to patients with serious conditions and limited treatment options,” said Deborah Autor, director of the Office of Compliance in the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. “The FDA must take a firm stand against companies who prey on the vulnerability of patients seeking hope and relief.”

A series of articles in the Chicago Tribune found widespread evidence that parents of children with autism were using chelation on their children, even though it has not been found to be safe and effective.

Industrial chemical marketed for use on kids with autism

Monday, January 18th, 2010

Created for use in mining, compound now sold as dietary supplement

Parents desperate to treat autism in their children are turning to an industrial chemical that has not been proven safe or effective for use in humans, the Chicago Tribune reports.

Called OSR#1, the substance is being marketed as a dietary supplement by Boyd Haley, a retired professor who was once chairman of the chemistry department at the University of Kentucky. Haley said the chemical, which is used to pull heavy metals from polluted soil, is a “food” that is “totally without toxicity.”

Sources at the Food and Drug Administration told the Tribune that Haley had not submitted sufficient information for the substance to be evaluated for safety. Experts expressed concern that children were consuming a chemical that had not been formally evaluated for safety.

The report on OSR#1 is the latest in a series of Tribune articles documenting unproven and potentially harmful “therapies” that are being given to children with autism. Earlier post here.

Mother says marijuana saved the life of her son with autism

Tuesday, November 24th, 2009

She’s seeking more research; Experts skeptical

From ABC Good Morning America (with video):

Mieko Hester-Perez of Fountain Valley, Calif., tells ABC Good Morning America that she used marijuana brownies to save the life of her ten-year-old son, who has autism. She says the controversial “treatment” improved his appetite and demeanor, and allowed him to reduce the number of medications he takes.

“I saved my son’s life, and marijuana saved my son’s life… When a mother hears that her son is knocking on death’s door, you will do anything to save his life,” said Hester-Perez.

Experts raise concerns about using marijuana in a way that has not been proven to provide benefits.

“He is intoxicated. He’s stoned,” said Dr. Sharon Hirsch, a child psychiatrist at the University of Chicago. “It means that he’s under the influence of a drug and may have an addiction. It can cause psychosis, may lead to schizophrenia. [There's] no evidence at all at this time and no reason to prescribe any kind of marijuana for a child with autism.”

Scientists: Research hijacked to back dubious autism ‘therapies’

Monday, November 23rd, 2009

By Trine Tsouderos and Patricia Callahan in the Chicago Tribune:

Autism researchers say their work is being taken out of context by doctors to promote alternative autism treatments, which are widely sought by desperate parents. Even though most physicians warn parents to stay away from unproven treatment methods, studies have found that up to three-quarters of families of children with autism try at least some unproven therapies.

Physicians and others, many of them affiliated with the organization “Defeat Autism Now!”, are promoting such unproven methods as intravenous immunoglobulin, testosterone inhibitors, hyperbaric oxygen treatments, and fatty acid therapy.

They say the methods are solidly based on science, “but the Tribune found otherwise after speaking with dozens of scientists and physicians and reviewing thousands of pages of research and court testimony,” Tsouderos and Callahan write.

Johns Hopkins neurologist Dr. Carlos Pardo, whose study is being cited as justification for the use of intravenous immunoglobulin and hyperbaric oxygen treatments, had warned doctors against just such an interpretation of his work. “People are abusing science for the treatment of autism,” he said.

Cambridge University autism researcher Dr. Simon Baron-Cohen, whose work has been cited to defend the use of a testosterone inhibitor on children with autism, said the idea of using the drug this way “fills me with horror.”

Experts said the treatments could lead to unexpected side effects that could be worse than the condition itself.

Scientists call Lupron autism treatment ‘junk science’

Thursday, May 28th, 2009

Dr. Mark Geier (left) and his son, David, Chicago Tribune photoFrom the Chicago Tribune:

A drug that is being marketed for the treatment of autism is being widely criticized by scientists who say it is unproven and potentially damaging.

Dr. Mark Geier and his son, David, (left) are promoting Lupron as a “miracle drug, ” but more than two dozen prominent endocrinologists dismissed the treatment earlier this year in a paper published online by the journal Pediatrics. The drug is sometimes used to chemically castrate sex offenders.

Said Simon Baron-Cohen, director of the Autism Research Center in Cambridge: “The idea of using it with vulnerable children with autism, who do not have a life-threatening disease and pose no danger to anyone, without a careful trial to determine the unwanted side effects or indeed any benefits, fills me with horror.”

See also:

Physician team’s crusade shows cracks – Chicago Tribune

(Chicago Tribune photo)

Autism clinic faces probes by insurers, medical investigators

Monday, May 4th, 2009

From the Austin American-Statesman:

Owners of an Austin-area clinic which treats children with autism using controversial techniques say the center is facing a financial crisis in the wake of investigations by three major insurers. The Texas Medical Board is also investigating the clinic’s medical director.

Co-owner of the CARE clinic Kazuko Grace Curtin says they have treated more than 5,000 patients from around the world since 2003. Among charges disputed by insurers is the clinic’s use of chelation, which is not approved by the FDA for treating autism. Doctors say it is risky and has not been proven effective.

The clinic performs more than 20 tests on each child for a variety of ailments, at a cost of “several hundred dollars” each. Curtin said the clinic had “cured many kids.” Doctors urged parents to be cautious, since autism is a condition without a known cause or cure.

Navigating the maze of autism treatments

Tuesday, January 20th, 2009

Writing in the New York Times, Personal Health columnist Jane E. Brody chronicles the journey of a New York couple who have tried both traditional methods and alternative practices in their attempt to help their child with autism.

Among the methods that Rochelle and Ian Yankwitt have sampled: Speech therapy, occupational therapy, special education, diet changes, supplements, creams, chelation therapy, and hyperbaric oxygen therapy.  They think their son is a little bit better, but don’t know whether anything they’ve tried has made the difference.

Brody interviews Laura Schreibman, author of “The Science and Fiction of Autism,” who says behavioral intervention is the only approach that has been scientifically proven to help children with autism. An excerpt:

With the increase in awareness of autism and improvements in diagnosis, more children today can get an early start on effective therapy rather than wasting valuable time, effort and money on remedies that lack a scientific basis and proof of effectiveness.

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More than 50 million people in the United States have disabilities, a number that is growing rapidly as the population ages. Experts say disability will soon affect the lives of most Americans. This website attempts to aggregate news and commentary about disability, and to document the efforts of people who are seeking new ways to address familiar challenges.

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