An Autism Treatment Mirage Arrives from the Desert

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Just when we thought our children had been experimented upon enough, without concern for science, we are now introduced to a new autism elixir, this time from the desert: camel’s milk!

Here’s the justification given for using camel’s milk to treat autism: There is a theory that autism may be caused by some type of inflammation. Camel’s milk is thought, by some, to have an ameliorative effect for symptoms of autism by reducing inflammation. So why not give camel’s milk to children with autism?

Here’s why:

1) There are no controlled studies published in peer-reviewed journals that support camel’s milk as a treatment for autism.

2) Camel’s milk can be dangerous due to the fact that:
- the milk is raw
it comes from animals that can harbor TB and E-coli.
- milking techniques are often unhygienic.
- it’s difficult to get milk to market safely due to lack of refrigeration in areas where most people raise camels, i.e., from desert nomads.

3) This so-called treatment has very compelling testimonials given by highly motivated parents
, supported by purveyors of camel’s milk who don’t seem to be disturbed about the lack of science behind this purported treatment. Uncontrolled parental observations of their children’s behavior after having been given camel’s milk, is all there is to support parents’ belief that camel milk is improving their children’s symptoms of autism.

Does camel’s milk treat what ails kids with autism? Who knows, but until there is some science-based evidence as to measurable benefit, we need to categorize this latest theory as untested at best, and potentially dangerous at worst.

The proponents of camel’s milk (and there are a few) need to show us the data that supports their claims of efficacy. Until such time, Camel’s Milk Treatment remains filed under quackery.