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Citalopram Found Ineffective Treating Autistic Children

Antidepressant causes adverse events in 97.3 percent of study subjects

WEDNESDAY, June 3 (HealthDay News) -- The antidepressant citalopram hydrobromide was no better than placebo in the treatment of children with autism spectrum disorders, according to a report in the June issue of the Archives of General Psychiatry.

Bryan H. King, M.D., of Seattle Children's Hospital, and colleagues randomized 149 children with autism (ages 5 to 17 years) from six academic medical centers to receive citalopram or placebo to test its effectiveness treating repetitive behavior. For 12 weeks, the study group received the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor citalopram hydrobromide (10 mg/5 mL) and the control group received placebo. The primary outcome was response measured using the Clinical Global Impressions, Improvement subscale, and the secondary outcome was the change in score on the Children's Yale-Brown Obsessive Compulsive Scales.

Investigators found no significant difference between the citalopram-treated group and the placebo group in positive response on the Clinical Global Impressions, Improvement subscale (32.9 and 34.2 percent, respectively). Likewise, there was no difference in score reduction from baseline on the Children's Yale-Brown Obsessive Compulsive Scales (mean, -2.0 for the study group compared to -1.9 for the placebo group). The authors further note that citalopram use was associated with adverse events in 97.3 percent of subjects, including hyperactivity, impulsiveness, decreased concentration, repetitive movement, diarrhea, insomnia, dry skin and itchiness.

"Results of this trial do not support the use of citalopram for the treatment of repetitive behavior in children and adolescents with autism spectrum disorders," the authors conclude.

The study authors reported financial arrangements with a number of pharmaceutical companies.

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