Medical Myth Busting - Journal of Medical Toxicology Debunks Treatment for Autism

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The Journal of Medical Toxicology, the official journal of the American College of Medical Toxicology, publishes a study evaluating the effectiveness of an unproven topical treatment for autism in its March issue.

American College of Medical Toxicology

Despite the absence of data ... many advocates of a heavy metal toxic etiology for autism (in particular mercury) have incorporated ‘TD-DMPS’ into their non-traditional practice.

The lead article in the March issue of the Journal of Medical Toxicology (JMT) is a study that examines the absorption of a product, TD-DMPS, after application to the skin. DMPS is a metal-binding agent that is not approved for use by the US FDA. TD-DMPS is advertised as a topical treatment for autism. The oral and intravenous forms of DMPS are approved in some countries for the removal of metals from the body when patients are poisoned, but the transdermal (TD) form has not been shown to be effective for the treatment of any condition, including autism.

In the study, the researchers were unable to detect any DMPS in the blood following its application, demonstrating that the product is not absorbed through the skin. Without absorption, TD-DMPS cannot exert its purported effects of removing heavy metals from the body. The study confirmed this by demonstrating that the urinary elimination of mercury, a metal known to be removed from the body when DMPS is given by mouth or the intravenous route, did not increase after application of the product.

According to an accompanying editorial by Charles McKay MD, Medical Director of the Department of Occupational Health Services and Section Chief of the Division of Medical Toxicology at Hartford Hospital in Connecticut, “Despite the absence of data, and in the face of such concerns about absorption and dose, many advocates of a heavy metal toxic etiology for autism (in particular mercury) have incorporated ‘TD-DMPS’ into their non-traditional practice. We should recognize, however, the frustration and despair that leads members of the public to embrace homeopathy, ‘detoxifying regimens’, and the like.”

ACMT is a professional, nonprofit association of physicians with recognized expertise in medical toxicology. The College is dedicated to advancing the science and practice of medical toxicology through a variety of activities.

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