A 4-year-old boy with autism is showing signs of progress after "eating worms" for two months. Milan Solanki is part of an experimental worm therapy for autism where he consumes helminths to keep his gut bacteria healthy.
The boy's family exclusively told Daily Mail that the boy showed improved attention span and sociability due to the worm therapy. Caroline Solanki also noticed her son is now able to maintain eye contact even among strangers.
"It feels that we are on the road to recovery from his neurodevelopmental disorder," Caroline said. "We know Milan's ability to lead a normal life is really dependent on us continuing our efforts to help him find a balance in his body," she added.
Milan doesn't exactly eat worms directly. A company called Biome Restoration in Lancashire developed a food supplement using microscopic larvae. Apart from this, the 4-year-old also changed diet under the guidance of Dr. Jerry Kartzinel, a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics.
This was not, however, the first worm therapy for autism to exist as experts also looked into a similar study on hygiene hypothesis in 2013. Dr. Eric Hollander of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine headed the research, as per Fox.
Experts derived the idea behind worm therapy, otherwise called helminth therapy, on the hygiene hypothesis that grew popular in the early 1990s. Doctors believed exposing patients to harmful organism could boost their autoimmune systems to resist allergies, asthma, inflammation or fever.
Doctors also experimented on worms for cures for Crohn's disease, multiple sclerosis and type 1 diabetes. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), however, never approved parasites as a treatment for any condition, including autism, as per BioTherapeutics, Education & Research (BTER) Foundation.
Other doctors are also wary of worm therapy for autism as there is "no credible scientific evidence," Dr. James Cusack of Austistica in the U.K. said. He cautions parents that these experimental or alternative treatments for autism come with risks.