Canton, Ohio, Nov. 18--(AP) The parents of a 7-year-old cannot be forced to treat his leukemia with chemotherapy and can pursue a diet-based alternative, a judge ruled Monday.

The parents' decision was carefully researched and does not constitute neglect, Stark County Family Court Judge David Stucki ruled. "These are not parents who refused medical treatment or who elected to take Noah to a witch doctor or a shaman," he said.
The county's social services agency had accused Theresa and Greg Maxin of neglect for pulling their son, Noah, out of a 31/2-year chemotherapy plan after three months. The Maxins said they were concerned the chemicals would lead to long-term health problems.

The couple switched Noah to a diet-based regimen designed to strengthen his immune system under the guidance of a physician licensed in both family medicine and holistic treatments.

The county's complaint said the boy's leukemia, though in remission, could return without further chemotherapy. Randy Muth, a lawyer for the county family services agency, said officials who consulted with medical experts around the country determined that the holistic approach was inadequate. Stucki's ruling "is not one we agree with, but it's one that we're willing to live with," Muth said. He said the agency had not yet decided whether to appeal.

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