Drug Effective Against Autism-Linked Aggression

Risperidone improved behavior, interactions with little side effects

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FRIDAY, July 1, 2005 (HealthDay News) -- The antipsychotic drug risperidone is a safe, effective treatment for children with autism characterized by tantrums, aggression and/or self-injury, concludes a multi-site study sponsored by the U.S. National Institute of Mental Health.

The study of 101 children (82 boys, 19 girls), aged 5 to 17, found that treatment with risperidone resulted in decreased aggression, reduced repetitive behaviors and increased social interaction, with limited side effects. The study also found that discontinuation of risperidone after six months of treatment resulted in a rapid return of aggressive and disruptive behavior in most cases.

The findings appear in the July issue of the American Journal of Psychiatry.

"A variety of treatments, including medication, are use to manage aggressive behaviors in autistic children, but controlled medication trials are limited," study author Dr. James McCracken, of the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior at the University of California, Los Angeles, said in a prepared statement.

"Our findings support adding risperidone to the small arsenal of intermediate-term medication options for the tens of thousands of children with autism who display aggressive and destructive behavior," he said, adding that "the response to risperidone ranks among the most positive ever observed in children with autism for a drug treatment."

More information

The Autism Society of America explains autism treatment options.

SOURCE: University of California, Los Angeles, news release, July 1, 2005

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