Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Dr. Rudolph Airs

Our segment about the trip to Kansas City just aired. We talk to Dr. Charles Rudolph about chelation therapy. Though this is a controversial topic, we thought it was important to show you because some people use it to treat autism.

Check out the story here.

You can also look at a behind the scenes video and a slideshow.


ANB said...

Here's a more accurate rewrite:

There's an unproven and potentially harmful treatment some people believe helps ease the symptoms of autism. In the latest installment of our series "Combating Autism from Within," we take a look at Chelation - a practice that removes most metals, including mercury, from the body.

"There is not a whole lot of what mainstream does basically. Most of it is behavioral treatments and basic therapies and speech therapies," said Dr. Charles Rudolph. "These are just scratching the surface. That is just the tip of the iceberg. They are trying to work with the end result of the problem and not trying to get to the cause of the problem."

The marketing of non evidence-based treatments for autism. It's part of our series "Combating Autism From Within."

Autism is a disorder characterized by difficulty with social interaction and communication, along with repetitive behaviors. This week we're covering treatments and therapies for autism, both proven and unproven.

Though there is no credible evidence, some parents believe autism is caused by mercury and other toxins in vaccines. Those who believe this turn to chelation to remove heavy metals from the body.

In our last installment, you met parents who think they are seeing results with this treatment. This story took us to Kansas City, to a chelation clinic.

"We are the most published clinic in the world on chelation. We have written over 30 papers on it," Rudolph said. (Should ask how many are peer reviewed)

While most of the McDonough Medical Center patients are adults, Dr. Charles Rudolph sees some young patients with autism.

"I'm not going to sit here and tell you mercury causes autism. The question is depending on their genetic predisposition to handle mercury," Rudolph speculated. "It might be a ten percent or it might be a 50 percent player."

That player causes enough concern that some people seek treatments beyond what evidence-based medicine offers for autism.

"If the patient does have autism, and he has a defective ability to remove heavy metals from the brain then we need to treat him to get the heavy metals down," explained Rudolph. (What indicates a defective ability to remove mercury from the brain?) "Just like if a patient has a problem with kidneys we need to put them on dialysis. That is sort of like Chelation. For that person that can't remove heavy metals from the brain, it sort of acts like dialysis for the brain."

Chelation is used in many forms by the McDonough Clinic, pills, lotions, and saunas. But not all of these methods are proven effective. Many doctors don't believe, for instance, that chelating agents can pass through the dermis intact.

"Traditional medicine doesn't appreciate this. These things are fixed in stone they are irreversible. I guess we didn't read that book irreversible because we seen to reverse a lot of these things," said Rudolph, who relies heavily on anecdotes to sell his services.

Dr. Rudolph says not every person with autism needs Chelation.

"I try not to have tunnel vision I look at all these things. I look at their metabolism. If they have mercury problems I will treat it. If they don't I won't."

What makes chelation so controversial in the autism community is it supports the idea autism is caused by toxins... Meaning autism can be prevented. Evidence-based researchers doubt that. The FDA has not approved chelation to treat autism], and few in any insurance companies do, since there is no clear evidence that it works.

"You think that they are basically on the side of the consumer and not the drug company, but a little known fact is that 75 percent of the people that are head of the FDA retired as vice presidents for drug companies," said Rudolph. "Well, that is knowing where your bread is buttered, as they say in the south." Does KOMU really want to air unfounded conspiracies?

Chelation made headlines two years ago when a five-year-old boy with autism died in Pennsylvania during a treatment.

"They used a different chelator and they used it too fast. They didn't use what we normally use and they gave it at too fast a rate." This is a one-side interpretation and should probably be edited out. The PA chelationist was following ACAM protocol when he killed Abubakar.

Insurance doesn't cover Chelation, so all of Dr. Rudolph's patients pay out of pocket. A typical treatment costs $108.

"Patients can't get reimbursed because they are doing something they want to do and it is not something the big insurance company wants to do then that's a problem. It's a crime. I am sorry but it is a crime," said Rudolph.

Rudolph has no formal training in autism, he is not an MD, and he has no board certified in toxicology. But his clinic belongs in this series as a place autism patients go to seek unproven treatments. Next week we will show you the pros and cons of exorcism, which some people also say works to recover autistic children, and like chelation, is also lacking in evidence.

Kathleen Seidel said...

Dr. Rudolph claimed:
"We are the most published clinic in the world on chelation. We have written over 30 papers on it."

and ANB asked:
"(Should ask how many are peer reviewed)"

Apparently none that are indexed by the National Library of Medicine. The four papers that show up on a search of PubMed were published in Medical Hypotheses, a pay-for-publication journal that does not employ peer review. Oddly, the abstracts on the clinic's website do not include publication information. A bibliography published on another chelationist's website indicates that several of their articles were published in the Journal of Holistic Medicine, and at least one other was self-published.

Two more points: Insurance does cover chelation, but only if it is medically indicated. Insurance companies are under no obligation to finance pharmaceutical experimentation or speculative therapies. Dr. Rudolph's "treatments" seem to fall into that category. Also, it should be no surprise that individuals chosen to lead the FDA tend to possess professional experience in drug and device development. Dr. Rudolph's conspiratorial whisperings are inflammatory and self-serving.

AutismNewsBeat said...

Thanks, Kathleen. That was good information. It would appear that the reporter was misled by Dr. Rudolph into believing the McDonough Clinic is on the cutting edge of chelation-related research.

I know KOMU is only a small market station in central Missouri, as one commenter pointed out, but critical thinking is a pretty basic tool for a good reporter. And the college students who produced the story come from one of the better J Schools in the country.

Can't wait to see how Ayoub and Haley spin their stories.

Foresam said...

It's typical that drug company shills would show up here to smear chelation. Children who are cured with chelation prove that thimerosal caused the autism epidemic. Who but a Pharma shill would try to deny this?

Anonymous said...

Amen, foresam. Amen.

Heraldblog said...

John, do you have any data that supports your claim that autism is cured with chelation?

Please feel free to refer to your website which is so representative of the bio-med cure community. Make sure you reference the Geiers, and say nasty things about the CDC, FDA, AMA and anybody who has the courage and heart to accept and love their children.