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Kudos to The Chicago Tribune!

  • Posted on November 25, 2009 at 2:20 PM

I saw a headline I just had to read:

Autism treatments: Risky alternative therapies have little basis in science

Alternative therapies amount to uncontrolled experimentation on children, investigation finds

The article starts with a little boy whose parents are currently involved in a bitter custody battle.  One parent, the mother, is subjecting the boy to a “complex treatment regimen” that involves the child taking many pills, being injected with vitamin B12, receiving intravenous infusions of a drug used to leach mercury and other metals from the body, as well as taking megadoses of vitamin C, a hormone and a drug that suppresses testosterone.  The father opposes these treatments.

Unfortunately, this little boy is not alone.

But after reviewing thousands of pages of court documents and scientific studies and interviewing top researchers in the field, the Tribune found that many of these treatments amount to uncontrolled experiments on vulnerable children.

The therapies often go beyond harmless New Age folly, the investigation found. Many are unproven and risky, based on scientific research that is flawed, preliminary or misconstrued. (Tsouderos & Callahan)

And here’s where the kudos comes in.  Sure, as a parent of three children on the spectrum, I’ve heard about all of this.  I know these therapies are opportunistic bunk.  Yet, I still read articles in otherwise respectable periodicals promoting all this bunk.  And here is the Chicago Tribune devoting precious reporting time and significant space in their newspaper to debunking the bunk.  To say I’m impressed is, well, an understatement.  They just might get a subscription out of this!

Also noteworthy:  This article links to these FAQs which states, among other things, that while researchers at John Hopkins have noted neuroinflammation in their studies of autistic brains that this should not be used as a reason for treating people with autism with anti-inflammatory medications, which the researchers fear might happen.

Read this to find out more:

Autism treatment: Science hijacked to support alternative therapies

Researchers' fears about misuse of their work come true

So, I’m pleased with the reporting going on at The Chicago Tribune at the moment, which I find particularly pleasing because this newspaper seems to have close ties to the graduate school I intend to attend.