Disabled mum seeks ban on dangerous ‘snake-oil cures’ for autism


An autistic mum has secured more than 50,000 signatures in just two weeks for a petition calling on the government to ban the sale of dangerous chemicals that are being sold as “cures” for autism.

Emma Dalmayne says she has discovered dozens of “snake-oil salesmen” selling products which claim to cure autism, many of which can cause serious harm.

She has already reported four people to the police in the UK, including a mother who described online how she had been using the bleach-like product chlorine dioxide (CD) to “treat” her autistic child.

The Metropolitan police have been “conducting welfare checks” on the child, following a complaint made by Dalmayne about a woman in north London last week. She has also contacted social services about the family.

A police spokeswoman said yesterday (Wednesday): “Following an allegation of child cruelty, the Met’s sexual offences, exploitation and child abuse command are currently making enquiries.

“Officers are in contact with the complainant and are making enquiries to establish the full detail of the allegation, and if any criminal offences have been committed.

“Officers are also working closely with other agencies, including social services, to ensure any safeguarding issues are managed appropriately.”

The US Food and Drug Administration has warned that using MMS (Miracle Mineral Solution, another name for CD) as instructed produces “an industrial bleach that can cause serious harm to health”, similar to products used to strip textiles and for industrial water treatment.

It says: “High oral doses of this bleach, such as those recommended in the labeling, can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and symptoms of severe dehydration.”

Dalmayne, who lives in south-east London and has six children – all of whom are neurologically diverse, including two with diagnoses of autism – runs a Facebook support group for other parents of autistic children.

She first came across MMS last year and was “horrified” by what she learned.

She says there are Facebook groups all over the world that offer support to parents who want to “cure” their children, while MMS is available for sale on eBay, and other products such as GcMAF are also widely available.

The people pushing the treatments, such as US author Kerri Rivera, often claim they rid the body of parasites they believe are responsible for causing autism.

The Facebook groups often feature concerns raised by parents who describe their children throwing up, having blood in their stools, skin rashes and nose bleeds after using the treatment, while Dalmayne says CD has led to bits of children’s bowels being stripped away, respiratory problems and severe dehydration.

One child in Florida had to have his bowel removed because of the amount of bleach he had been given, she said.

Dalmayne said she believes the push to “cure” autism is “hate speech” – equivalent to trying to cure gay people – and those responsible are guilty of disability hate crime.

She said: “Autism is not a curable condition. This should not be happening.

“It makes us in the [autism]community feel like we are under siege. There is so much out there that is being pushed to parents to try and eradicate us, basically.

“It is all about so-called normalising and driving autism out.

“If your child improves on any of these treatments it is because they are internalising [their behaviour]because they know that their mum or dad doesn’t want them to be themselves.”

Dalmayne said the Facebook groups make up a “horrible under-world” of people who are advised not to use their real names online, or say where they live, or to tell doctors, teachers or social workers that they are using the products on their children.

Dalmayne, who has written a book for parents that offers insights into life as an autistic person – It’s an Autism Thing… l’ll Help You Understand It – has already helped The Sun newspaper expose two people in the UK who were selling MMS.

One of her autistic children, eight-year-old Damien (pictured with his mum), said it was “sad” that people were selling these products.

He told Disability News Service: “It should be illegal.”

Now his mum wants the government to introduce legislation to ban advertising such cures to the general public, as was done with alleged remedies for cancer with the 1939 Cancer Act.

She says on her petition, which was launched earlier this month and by this morning (Thursday) had secured more than 50,000 signatures: “Currently there’s nothing to stop people marketing the false idea that autism is something that can be or needs to be cured. I think it’s time we change that.

“Autism is a neurological condition, it’s not something you can cure like an injury or illness.

“With the right professional therapies, people with autism can thrive, but there’s no product that can offer a magical ‘fix’.”

The Department of Health (DH) refused to confirm that it was not in favour of new legislation.

But a DH spokeswoman said that local authorities were responsible for using trading standards legislation to prevent the marketing of such products.

She said: “There is no place for the marketing of potentially harmful substances as ‘miracle cures’ for autism, and legislation exists to make sure local authorities prevent it from happening.”

She said that anybody who believes a child is being harmed, or is likely to be harmed, should contact their local authority and/or the police, while anyone aware of such products being sold online or in retail outlets should contact their local authority trading standards department.

She also said that the Food Standards Agency had issued advice to local authorities to take appropriate action in such cases and had placed consumer advice for oral products on its website.

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) said: “MMS contains sodium chlorite (bleach) and it has no proven, or conceivable, health benefit and we advise people not to buy this product.

“The Food Standards Agency has issued warnings to consumers advising against use of this product.”

It also said that GcMAF products “may pose a significant risk to people’s health”.

A spokesman said: “An investigation into GcMAF products is being undertaken after we found the manufacturing conditions unacceptable and the originating material unsuitable for human use.”

But the spokesman added: “MHRA has not stated that there should be new legislation to stop the supply of these products.”

  • User Ratings (6 Votes)
  • Signed and shared. Let’s get the word out and help save some babies!

  • Nic

    I saw the petition and agree with the sentiment that it’s horrible that gullible people are harming their children to try and cure autism – but I didn’t sign it because we actually don’t need a new Act of Parliament for this. It’s already covered on multiple levels.

    It already comes under the Advertising Standards laws, where advertisers have to have actual proper evidence backing up a claim to cure/treat medical conditions. I know for certain that the ME Association has spent a lot of time over the years, reporting snake oil salespeople to the ASA and forcing them to take down their ads, so surely other disability/chronic illness charities ought to have staff doing the same thing. If you see a snake oil ad claiming to cure a condition you know is incurable, get hold of the related charity, send them the advert and tell them to make a complaint to the ASA.

    Also, as the article says, Department of Health regs, Trading Standards regs and Food Safety regs already cover the situation, and you can report through their regulatory authorities too.

    You can also contact the Action Fraud (National Fraud and Cybercrime Reporting Centre) page on Medical Fraud/Scams. They work with the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (who in turn, are run by the City of London Police (the national lead force for fraud)), so any reports you send to them, will be passed on to the police to see what action can be taken.

    In short, we don’t need extra laws; we need some awareness campaigns to let people to know who to report the situation to, and we need to make sure the current laws are enforced.

  • Johnski

    Firstly there is never these miracle cures and various other promises, and if people are stupid to take anything without checking on ingredients and what damage they can cause are idiots.
    I know it’s everyone’s right to have children, but yo continue to have six children all with problems just how little common sense this woman has, and because of this I refuse this petition to sign, as not worthy. There are hundreds of products you can legally purchase that can damage your health, you wouldn’t think of opening up a bottle of bleach to give to your children, so why do the same thing by giving them this product to cure them? You have a responsibility to your children not to give them anything harmful, so always check the label, and if it offers cures that no proper lab has produced then, you shouldn’t be allowed to keep your children.

    Some products, legally distributed and said was safe, that then caused serious birth defects in the past, are now curing diseases that the tablets were never designed for, but found out later by research, that main drug was “Thalidomide” now used to cure certain cancers. Isn’t life strange.

    • I’m afraid you’re getting perilously close to a eugenicist argument here. Emma loves all her children and the world is a better place with them in it. Have a think about all the incredible people we would be missing if we tried to stop people having children with neurological difference. I think you owe Emma an apology. Either that or please find another website to visit.

      • Johnski

        I thought in the case of this mother the fact she kept having numerous children would be infected, is in this day and age, often stopped or advised to stop having excessive numbers of children. The main thing I posted was why people don’t spend five minutes checking on contents of drugs purchased generally over the Internet. There is Jo point in this particular campaign as after checking there is enough rules and regulations already to stop the sale of these products, and many disappear as quick as they appeared. If people stopped buying into miracle unproven alleged remedies, then they would soon disappear from places of purchases. If this got as far as the first stage by being overseen by the five MPs who decide if to put before parliament, it would be thrown out, as it is already so well covered. This is why generally these wonder cures don’t come from the UK, and proves the regulations work here. Purchasing anything from an unknown source from a foreign country, is generally a unsafe way to proceed, and you may as well sit by a fire burning your twenty pound notes, or other denomination. It’s more difficult to enforce abroad, often from countries that lack experience, and don’t enforce regulations, often shown in the standard of health and education. It’s a con whatever way you look at it, there is obviously research being undertaken, and many young children have benefitted from these treatment programs, but this campaign isn’t to do with that.

      • Kathy

        the world is a better place because of people like Emma

  • Kathy

    I am so glad for people like Emma. God bless you. You do good work.

  • Hi Melanie
    This sounds extremely disturbing. Could you email me or phone me with further details please?
    Best wishes,
    John Pring, editor, Disability News Service (my contact details are on the home page of the website)

  • cigarbabe

    I’m so sorry this happened to your daughter. The group should be held liable period.