A new and uNPRoven approach to autism pops up in a local community. A reporter and his newspaper have several choices:
Thankfully, this reporter and this paper chose #3.
The story quotes the mother of two developmentally disabled children saying: "These people are preying on the fears of parents. We cannot be using these children who are so vulnerable as guinea pigs in a medical experiment."
And it quotes a developmental pediatrician saying "
practitioners promoting untested alternative treatments often appeal to parents by portraying themselves as persecuted rebels."It’s always just ‘The medical establishment is against us.’ "
In such cases, people need to evaluate evidence. This story helps readers do that.
The story says that Lupron costs about $5,000 a month but is seldom covered by insurance. Good job to address both points.
The story, as noted, cites the Maryland researcher’s claims from small published studies, but also states: "
numerous physicians, researchers and therapists insist there’s no proof mercury causes autism, that Lupron removes mercury or that autistic kids have excessive testosterone."
The story did a good job dedicating quite a bit of discussion to potential harms from this approach – both known and unknown.
The story explained that the Maryland physician promoting the theory "published a 2006 study contending that 11 autistic children taking Lupron did better on tests of awareness, sociability and behavior. He has since issued other studies finding that mercury leads to excess testosterone and that autistic children have excessive levels of the hormone." But then it immediately notes: "Other doctors said (the) studies were small, were not scientifically sound and were published in journals that do not follow the standard practice of having experts review the methods."
No disease mongering in this story.
Several independent expert sources were quoted.
Good job on this as well. The story states that "untested autism treatments have flourished." And it ends with:
It’s clear from the story that Lupron is already used to treat endometrial cancer and prostate cancer. The story might have addressed more directly its current off-label use.
It’s also clear that this is about a Maryland medical group taking its idea on the road to South Florida. Ideally, the story might have addressed whether it’s being tried elsewhere.
No inordinate claims of novelty. In fact, the story establishes that the one Maryland researcher has been testing this for at least five years.
This story did not rely on a news release. Strong enterprise reporting.