Officials call off controversial autism study

Will Dunham
Reuters
Thursday, Sept 18, 2008

Health officials have called off plans for a study examining a controversial type of treatment that some autism activists have touted as alternative medical therapy for children with the condition.

The National Institute of Mental Health, or NIMH, part of the U.S. National Institutes of Health, said in a statement on Wednesday that it has canceled a study aimed at assessing the effectiveness of a treatment called chelation.

Chelation (pronounced key-LAY-shun) is a type of therapy in which a man-made amino acid, called EDTA, is added to the blood, and it has been used to treat heavy metal poisoning.

Some autism activists have advocated it on the theory -- rejected by most scientists -- that autism is triggered by exposure to mercury, a heavy metal, from childhood vaccines.

Many studies and medical experts have dismissed the notion that mercury used in a vaccine preservative causes autism, but some parents of autistic children strongly believe it does.

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