According to a NBC News study, some parents poison their children with chlorine dioxide to cure autism.
The alarming so-called treatment is advertised online by advocates who claim it is a "miracle cure".
Chlorine dioxide can cause irreparable bodily injury, doctors warn. It damages the digestive system and damages the red blood cells.
"It can lead to kidney damage and kidney failure," Dr. Daniel Brooks, Medical Director of the Poison and Drug Information Center and Phoenix Outpatient Toxicology Clinic, told NBC News.
Brooks described the use of the chemical to treat autism as "ridiculous."
Yet, desperate parents have joined private Facebook groups where members report their desperate and dangerous attempts to cure their autistic children. Some groups have tens of thousands of members with parents who believe that their child's disorder has been caused by viruses, parasites, and moon vaccines.
Chlorine dioxide is used for water purification. The US Environmental Protection Agency has set a maximum level of 0.8 mg / L in drinking water.
The so-called autism treatment requires children to be given unsafe levels up to eight times a day.
Where did this dangerous idea come from?
Jim Humble, a former Scientologist and prospector, was the first to claim that chlorine dioxide has healing properties for AIDS, cancer, autism, and almost every other disease. He advertised the idea on his website in his book "MMS Health Recovery Guidebook" and even invented a new religion dedicated to the invention, which he called the Miracle Mineral Solution.
Kerri Rivera, a former real estate agency in Chicago, stepped into the chlorine dioxide train and is now one of the loudest advocates of a false cure.
Rivera, now living in Mexico, advertises online for treatment and discusses it in her 201
She runs a clinic in Puerto Vallarta claiming to have cured more than 500 cases of autism Rivera is not a doctor
"This is a medical problem. I have a degree in homeopathy and work with doctors and scientists, "Rivera told NBC.
In an email to NBC News, Rivera did not answer requests for information about her degree or the doctors she was supposed to be in the clinic with
How common is autism and what should parents do?
About one in 59 children in the United States, according to Centers for the Control and Prevention of Diseases, have been diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder over the past two decades In 2000, only about 1 in 150 children were diagnosed with autism.
"Although there are no available medications that can cure ASA, some medications can relieve various behavioral and physiological symptoms associated with the disorders." On the CDC Website.
Parents should seek help from a doctor or other healthcare professional.
What noc h?
Several social media platforms have begun to remove the widespread misinformation pages.
Last month Facebook closed Rivera's page and group "Healing the Symptoms Known as Autism", but she still has several accounts that are still active, including Keto Kerri, Kerri Rivera Profiles and I'm Keto Kerri, Patheos reported.  According to reports, YouTube has deleted dozens of Rivera's videos and Amazon has locked her book.