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Friday, October 14, 2011

Illinois Cracks Down on Alternative Treatment

Chelation and hyperbaric oxygen therapy are two alternative treatments for autism. In Illinois, a physician is in trouble for using them, as The Chicago Tribune reports:
Dr. Anjum Usman, of Naperville, has been a star in the world of alternative treatments for autism for years, but now she's facing professional discipline for her approach to the frustrating disorder.

In prescribing chelation, a hormone modulator and hyperbaric oxygen therapy, Usman subjected a young Chicago boy to unproven treatments and demonstrated "extreme departure from rational medical judgment," a complaint filed this week by the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation states.

Listing those treatments, along with dozens of dietary supplements and other therapies, the state said that "none has … been proven to influence the course of autism."

Many of these treatments are extolled in online forums and at conferences like Autism One, held in the Chicago area each spring. Lured by testimonials professing miraculous recoveries, desperate parents of children with autism spend thousands of dollars on them despite a lack of evidence and in spite of known risks.

The complaint, which alleges that Usman "engaged in a pattern of practice or other behavior that demonstrate incapacity or incompetence to practice," asks that Usman's medical license be revoked, suspended, placed on probation or otherwise disciplined.

Both Usman, medical director of the True Health Medical Center, and the boy described in the complaint were featured in the 2009 Tribune series Dubious Medicine. The series examined unproven alternative treatments for autism and concluded that many amount to mass uncontrolled experimentation on children