A father in Indianapolis last week accused his wife of feeding their child bleach to help cure her autism – something his wife had read about in a Facebook group.
Police arrested the 28-year-old mother on Saturday after she allegedly put drops of hydrochloric acid and water-purifying solution in her young daughter's drinks.
The potentially dangerous chemical combination, which becomes an industrial bleach, is marketed as Miracle Mineral Solution or Master Mineral Solution, which its advocates claim will cure a number of diseases, including autism, cancer, AIDS and hepatitis.
Police did not release the names of either parent, or the age of the child, who was removed from the home by Child Protective Services.
The Food and Drug Administration issued a warning in 2010 advising people using MMS to stop immediately and throw it away, citing side effects ranging from uncomfortable to life-threatening, according to the warning.
But the MMS website calls it an "amazingly powerful compound" that has "stood the test of time because it works – & works well!"
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there is no medication that cures autism, a developmental disability that can cause noticeable social and behavioral challenges.
There are medications, however, that can help manage the behaviors connected to autism, such as high energy levels, depression and seizures.
Some supporters of autism's neurodiversity movement are against curing the disability, believing it to be a natural human variation central to autistic people's identities.
Still, MMS is among many touted "cures" for autism sought by hopeful parents that are considered harmful and banned by the FDA.
Parents in the past, for example, have turned to chelation therapies to treat their autistic children, which are over-the-counter products used in severe cases of lead or iron poisoning that eliminate minerals and metals from the body.
Proponents of the treatment, however, say it "cures" autism by removing toxic chemicals. Side effects, according to the FDA, include dehydration, kidney failure, and death.
Some parents have tried hyperbaric oxygen therapy, too, which involves breathing pure oxygen in a pressurised room or tube.
While the therapy is an accepted treatment for severe conditions such as decompression sickness – a danger of scuba diving – it is not recommended for illnesses like autism because of insufficient evidence showing it helps, according to The Mayo Clinic. The treatment's side effects include seizures and lung collapse.
For parents looking to treat autism – which in 2016 affected one in 68 children in the country – a quick Google search may still point them to MMS, which is promoted on some healing blogs and highlighted as a successful treatment at a 2012 AutismOne conference.
But in 2015, seven Arkansas children were taken away from their parents because of their father's habit of putting a tiny drop of MMS in his glass of water and drinking it, the father told The Washington Post at the time.
The children, the father said, were never given the chemicals, and he suspected his two oldest children of being involved in the raid.
Court documents showed his 16-year-old son brought the MMS bottle to a friend's house and coughed for several hours after smelling it. The father said he thinks his son inhaled a different chemical used for the aquaponics system, and that he used the incident as a way out of being home-schooled.
Later that year, a Washington man was sentenced to more than four years in prison for selling the miracle cure through an Internet business called "Project GreenLife".
His instructions for the product explained that nausea, diarrhea and vomiting were all signs that the miracle solution was working, according to the Department of Justice.
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This article was originally published by The Washington Post.