Amazon takes down listings for two books claiming to provide a cure for autism.
The books, titled Healing the Symptoms Known as Autism and Fight Autism and Win, both claim to provide cures for the autism spectrum disorder (ASD) that are scientifically unproven and potentially harmful to patients.
The efforts to clamp down on the false and unscientific claims come after an article published on Wired this week noted that Amazon is littered with books that provide miracle cures for autism.
The so-called cures are all unproven and even potentially dangerous, including sex, yoga, veganism, and electroconvulsive therapy, among others.
According to SFGate, one of the recommendations in Healing the Symptoms Known as Autism is for children with autism drink and bathe in chlorine dioxide.
Chlorine dioxide, often referred to as Miracle Mineral Solution (MMS) by those who promote it, is falsely touted to cure autism as well as other diseases such as HIV, cancer, malaria, and the common cold, among others.
In truth, chlorine dioxide is a potent bleach that’s widely used for industrial water treatment and stripping textiles. FDA warns people that taking chlorine dioxide orally can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and severe dehydration, according to a report in 2010.
“There’s a tremendous emotional appeal to just having a solution, and if you’re not a very critical thinker or you’re so exhausted and desperate that you’ll try anything, you’ll go down the road of trying these various options,” Isabel Smith, a professor of autism research at Dalhousie University in Canada, explains to Wired. She adds that families with children who have autism are desperate and are being taken advantage of with these unproven cures.
According to the CDC, there is no medication that’s been proven to cure autism or even treat the core symptoms of the condition.
However, there are certain medications that help people on the spectrum function better. These medications do not cure, but they address specific symptoms, such as depression, seizures, and high energy levels, among others.
Early intervention and therapy can also provide developmental assistance to people with autism.
Amazon isn’t the only website making a move to stop the flood of fake information online. In the wake of public criticism and a rise in measles cases spurred by the anti-vaccination movement, a number of internet companies are now cracking down on misinformation that could potentially cause harm to individual and public health.
Back in February, social media website Pinterest is blocked search results for “vaccination,” in hopes of stopping the spread of misinformation on their platform. The company started implementing the policy after they noticed a number of images shared on their website are cautioning people against getting vaccinated.
Facebook and Instagram also recently announced new regulations, which includes algorithms that make it more difficult for users to find anti-vaccination groups and pages. Ads with false information will also be banned.
YouTube has also committed to adjustments that would reduce the conspiracy theory videos and extremist content that are likely to spread misinformation on the popular video platform.