No one can fault the parents of autistic children for seeking a cure for their kids. Unfortunately, as the Chicago Tribune reports, some are turning in desperation to a drug usually prescribed for men battling prostate cancer.
The medicine, called Lupron, inhibits production of the hormone testosterone. Supporters of its controversial and unproved use for autism base their approach on a purported link between mercury, testosterone and the developmental disorder.
But critics say the treatment is irresponsible. They warn Lupron can disrupt childhood development, interfering with puberty and jeopardizing kids' heart and bones.
Mark Geier, a Maryland doctor and prominent proponent of the treatment, has fueled the hopes of parents, proclaiming "Lupron is the miracle drug." Geier and his son are marketing a so-called "Lupron protocol" around the country, the Trib reports, and the pair has even filed a patent application for the technique.
The evidence to support the hype is lacking. University of Cambridge Professor Simon Baron-Cohen blasted the approach, telling the Trib, "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."