Castration Drug Claims Rile Autism Community

Experts blast flimsy science, lack of testing
By Ambreen Ali,  Newser User
Posted May 21, 2009 11:21 AM CDT
Leo Lytel, 9, poses for a photograph at his home in Washington earlier this month. Leo was diagnosed with autism as a toddler, then recovered.   (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
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(Newser) – A drug used to chemically castrate sex offenders is being touted as a "miracle" autism treatment, but many leading doctors say the use of the chemical is medically indefensible, the Chicago Tribune reports. Lupron blocks testosterone, and users embrace the unsupported theory that autism emerges from a link between the hormone and mercury. Parents insist the drug has helped kids who've been treated with Lupron.

"Lupron is the miracle drug," says Mark Geier, the doctor who is marketing the pricey treatment, though he isn't an autism specialist. He points out that Lupron reduces the incidence of behaviors such as aggression and masturbation. But critics say it also puts puberty on hold, can disrupt normal development, and may damage the heart and bones.