Amazon pulls books offering dangerous 'cures' for autism

Following reports of dangerous therapies being promoted in titles being sold through the site, a number have been quietly withdrawn

Books that promise cures for autism through potentially dangerous therapies have been quietly removed from Amazon over the last week.

The removals followed an exposé in Wired magazine this week that highlighted how Amazon was selling dozens of titles claiming to be able to cure the lifelong condition with nostrums from camel milk to yoga and veganism.

On Thursday morning, Kerry Rivera’s Healing the Symptoms Known As Autism, which advocates dosing autistic children with a bleach-like substance, chlorine dioxide, was no longer available from the online giant. The Autism Research Institute says that chlorine dioxide, which is known as “Miracle Mineral Solution” by its disciples, “has side effects known to be seriously damaging”.

Another book named in the Wired article, Fight Autism and Win, has also been withdrawn from Amazon. It advocates a process known as chelation, which involves using a dose of chemicals to remove heavy metals from the body. It is not an approved treatment for autism and can be dangerous: in 2005, a five-year-old boy died after undergoing chelation treatment.

The Miracle Mineral Supplement of the 21st Century, by the inventor of “Miracle Mineral Solution” Jim Humble, is also no longer for sale on Amazon.com.

Anti-vaccination campaigner Larry Cook, the founder of Stop Mandatory Vaccination, highlighted the books’ removal in a Facebook post to his followers, claiming that “Amazon censorship has begun” and calling on readers to “stock up on books and DVDs right now”. He shared a screenshot, purportedly from Amazon, in which the bookseller said that the subject matter of Rivera’s book was “in violation of our content guidelines”.

Amazon has been contacted for comment. It confirmed to NBC News that it had withdrawn the books, but would not comment on whether it was part of a larger effort to clean up the site.

Media giants have been facing growing criticism over their role in amplifying the anti-vaccine movement, with Facebook last week banning adverts including misinformation about vaccines. Cook’s videos were demonetised by YouTube in February, and the Daily Beast reported on Tuesday that Facebook had removed adverts by Cook, whose Amazon “storefront” directs readers towards books including The Unvaccinated Child and Vaccine Illusion.

The moves follow last week’s revelation in the Guardian that Amazon appears to be helping anti-vaccine not-for-profit organisations in the US through its charity arm, the AmazonSmile Foundation.

Contributor

Alison Flood

The GuardianTramp

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