Parents Are Making Their Children Drink Bleach to 'Cure' Them of Autism

Bottles of Clorox bleach sit on a shelf at a grocery store in San Francisco. Parents are making their children drink industrial bleach to “cure” them of autism, with the potentially deadly practice traced back to a cult in the United States. Getty Images

Parents are making their children drink industrial bleach to "cure" them of autism, with the potentially deadly practice traced back to a cult in the United States.

According to the British tabloid Sunday People, six British police forces probed cases in which children as young as 2 years old were forced to undergo the potentially lethal treatment.

The remedy being administered is CD (chloride dioxide)—or MMS ("miracle mineral solution")—with a secret Facebook group touting its use to desperate parents in the United Kingdom.

The method was promoted by a controversial U.S. church with a branch in Los Angeles: the mysterious Genesis II Church, founded by Jim Humble, a former scientologist.

A 2016 investigation by Eyewitness News and ABC News found an underground network clustered in Southern California and promoting MMS on Facebook as a cure for ailments including cancer, Parkinson's and autism in children.

The previous year, the BBC exposed a clandestine conference in which leading figures from the church traveled to the U.K. to promote the use of MMS, which it claims is a nondangerous religious sacrament.

They believed autism was caused by pathogens and parasites, which chloride dioxide kills. Doctors said claims of adherents were groundless and the solution was untested and could cause serious harm.

The treatment includes two chemicals, sodium chlorite and hydrochloric acid, which combine to make bleach. It is sold to be used orally or as an enema.

Proponents recommend mixing it with fruit juice, but medical experts warned that doing so caused the solution to acidify and produce chlorine dioxide, a potentially lethal bleach used to strip textiles.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration warned that the product "used as directed, produces an industrial bleach that can cause serious harm to health." It is banned in Canada.

The British Food Standards Authority warned against the use of MMS and said it could cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, reduced blood pressure or damage the gut or cause respiratory failure.

There has been one death linked to MMS and several cases of those taking it reporting serious health problems.

However, the substance remains available to purchase on the internet.

Dr. Jeff Foster warned of the potentially deadly consequences of using MMS.

"Autism is a neurodevelopmental disease which is not amenable to any form of tablet treatment. It's developed in the womb or early stages of life. You can't just reverse it, and anyone claiming that does not understand the condition," he told Sunday People.

"When you have very extreme measures like this to 'cure' a condition, it's just a roulette game," Dr. Foster said.

"Eventually someone will die. It's only a matter of time."

A British parliamentary commission focused on autism is expected to tighten the laws around MMS.