Autism Complementary and alternative medicine Medicine Quackery

A most disturbing video

Earlier this month, a “mercury mom” named Christine Heeren posted a most disturbing video to YouTube. Not long after, Kevin Leitch became aware of it and wrote about it, shortly after which the video was made a “private video” that only those given permission could view. Fortunately, Kevin had also downloaded the video and has made it available here.

It’s a disturbing video on many levels, portraying, as it does, Ms. Heeren’s autistic son being subjected to chelation therapy with EDTA, a therapy based on a failed hypothesis (that the mercury in thimerosal in vaccines “causes” or “contributes to” autism, a hypothesis which has been soundly refuted now by several epidemiologic studies and other science), with no evidence that it would work to “detoxify” and remove mercury months or years after exposure to result in improvements in or a “cure” for autism.

My first thought was: Why was the technician not wearing gloves while starting an IV? My second thought was: Why are they chelating this boy, who is not only not nonverbal, but is actually pretty communicative. My third question was “What the–?” when the technician said he was chelating with “garlic and vinegar.”

Intravenously??? Was he joking? I don’t think he was.

My final thought was: What kind of mother subjects her child to an ineffective quack treatment that requires him to be stuck for an IV line every week, putting her child at risk for harm for no benefit, and then posts a video of the treatment on the Internet proudly (at least until Kev discovered it)?

I say “ineffective” treatment because, as Kev describes, this child has been undergoing chelation for months now and, although verbal, still shows signs of autism:

Its a disturbing video on many levels. Heeren’s son has been undergoing chelation for seven months now and is still clearly totally autistic. During this video he is apparently writing ‘bus numbers’ down. The blog that Ms Heeren keeps (link on YouTube page) also makes it clear that her son still stims and he displays many common outward signs of autism (the scrunching up of the eyes at the start of the video reminds me of something my daughter does very much).

Moreover, any improvement in the child’s verbal and social skills over the many months he has been undergoing chelation is almost certainly due to development (remember autism is developmental delay) and not due to chelation with glutathione,

I simply can’t understand why this sort of thing still goes on.

By Orac

Orac is the nom de blog of a humble surgeon/scientist who has an ego just big enough to delude himself that someone, somewhere might actually give a rodent's posterior about his copious verbal meanderings, but just barely small enough to admit to himself that few probably will. That surgeon is otherwise known as David Gorski.

That this particular surgeon has chosen his nom de blog based on a rather cranky and arrogant computer shaped like a clear box of blinking lights that he originally encountered when he became a fan of a 35 year old British SF television show whose special effects were renowned for their BBC/Doctor Who-style low budget look, but whose stories nonetheless resulted in some of the best, most innovative science fiction ever televised, should tell you nearly all that you need to know about Orac. (That, and the length of the preceding sentence.)

DISCLAIMER:: The various written meanderings here are the opinions of Orac and Orac alone, written on his own time. They should never be construed as representing the opinions of any other person or entity, especially Orac's cancer center, department of surgery, medical school, or university. Also note that Orac is nonpartisan; he is more than willing to criticize the statements of anyone, regardless of of political leanings, if that anyone advocates pseudoscience or quackery. Finally, medical commentary is not to be construed in any way as medical advice.

To contact Orac: [email protected]

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