NASET News Alert

Popular Autism Treatment Yields No Benefits

June 04, 2009

Kids with autism don't benefit from treatment with the popularly prescribed antidepressant citalopram, according to a large, government-funded trial of children with autism and related conditions. The study, published Monday in the Archives of General Psychiatry, is the first to show that citalopram doesn't reduce repetitive behaviors that are a key characteristic of autism and are a significant reason why this class of antidepressants is prescribed. Children with autism-spectrum disorders often exhibit repetitive behaviors, including motor symptoms like flapping or rocking, or overly focusing on topics of intense interest. They can be inflexible or become agitated if asked to stop the behaviors. Antidepressants known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs, are thought to be helpful for these symptoms because they benefit children with obsessive-compulsive disorder, who also exhibit repetitive behaviors. But the effectiveness of antidepressants for children with autism hadn't been well-studied.

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