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No Benefit, Numerous Side Effects For Kids On Autism Drug Celexa, Study Says

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An antidepressant commonly prescribed to minimize repetitive behaviors in children with autism does not work, according to a study published in the June issue of the Archives of General Psychiatry.

Citalopram, sold under the name Celexa, is among a class of antidepressants called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, which are commonly used among people with autism even though they are not approved for this use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

In a study of citalopram, a team led by Dr. Bryan King, of Seattle Children’s Hospital gave 73 kids with autism citalopram while 76 children with the disorder took a placebo for 12 weeks.

In the end, researchers found that both groups exhibited similar levels of improvement in terms of repetitive behavior. But the children taking citalopram experienced significant side effects including, “increased energy level, impulsiveness, decreased concentration, hyperactivity, stereotypy (mechanical repetition of the same posture or movement), diarrhea, insomnia and dry skin or pruritis,” the authors write.

Not only do the results show that citalopram is ineffective for controlling repetitive behaviors in children with autism, but they indicate a need for further placebo-controlled trials of drugs being prescribed to kids with autism to determine whether or not the benefits outweigh the risks, the authors say.

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Comments (2 Responses)

  1. jsloan1223 says:

    The statement that celexa has “no benefit” is not entirely true. I would suggest that it depends on what you are trying to target. If the med was prescribed for management of anxiety, I believe it does a fair job at that task. but notice that anxiety is not the same as repetitive behavior.

    Further, from listening to our child psychiatrist for many hours, there are very few (zero?) safe meds to treat autism and its repetitive behaviors.

    We take what we can get, see improvements where possible, and change meds as needed.

  2. gabriele says:

    Taking what you can get is a dangerous approach. People have died from drugs that were thought to be safe. They were tested on animals and put out there. Research is the key and people now have the tools, thank God.

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