Laurel Austin fed both of her autistic sons chlorine dioxide, a chemical compound similar to bleach. Despite investigating Austen, the local police took no action. The mother based her 'treatment' on videos that she had scoured on Youtube.
On her Youtube account, Austin documented how she effectively poisoned her sons. Her account had 4,465 subscribers, according to NBC News.
“Health misinformation has started to infiltrate more mainstream. Historically we relied on the authority of paywalled scientific papers and there were naturally limiting factors that kept the spread of misinformation at bay, like geography and communication barriers. With the internet and social media, those barriers have been removed,” said Dr. Brittany Seymour, an assistant professor at Harvard University’s School of Dental Medicine, who studies health misinformation online.
The use of chlorine dioxide as a 'cure' for autism has been traced to Kerri Rivera, a former Chicago real estate agent with no medical experience.
Using seminars, a book, and interviews on Youtube, Rivera marketed chlorine dioxide as a cure for autism.
When local law enforcement investigated claims that Austin was administering the chemical to her sons, they found both sons in good spirits. Officers found a document stamped and signed by Dr. Sarita Singh, a primary care physician, authorizing the use of chlorine dioxide as a treatment for autism.
The police, content with the doctor's note, and an Austin's array of vitamin supplements for her sons, took no further action.