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New drug for the treatment of autism

Risperidone is a drug prescribed for schizophrenia and other mental problems, it can quiet many of the behavioural problems in children with autism, according to a recent study.

New drug for the treatment of autism

Risperidone is a drug prescribed for schizophrenia and other mental problems. According to a recent study, it can quiet many of the behavioural problems in children with autism. Autism is a brain disorder that affects an individual's ability to communicate effectively with other people. This disorder is evident very early in life - usually before the child is 30 months old. Autism affects all areas of social, psychological, emotional and language development. It is a mysterious condition causing children to become detached from the world. The youngsters are also known to throw tantrums for no obvious reason, become aggressive and try to hurt themselves. In a study carried out at the Yale University, USA researchers conducted a randomised trial of risperidone as compared with placebo for the treatment of autistic disorder accompanied by severe tantrums, aggression, or self-injurious behaviour in 101 children 5 to 17 years old. They found that 69 percent of the 49 children who received risperidone were less irritable and better behaved, compared with just 12 percent of the 52 youngsters who received placebo. The children who got the drug tended to gain nearly a 0.45 kg a week because their appetites increased. More than half developed mild or moderate fatigue, but their tiredness usually subsided after a few weeks, as did other side effects such as dizziness, drooling, tremor and constipation. To date, only haloperidol had been considered to be superior for the treatment of serious behavioural problems although it causes excessive sleepiness in a large percentage of the autistic children who receive it and causes short and long-term side effects. In comparison, risperidone was found to be safe, effective and well tolerated for the short-term treatment of tantrums, aggression and self-injurious behaviour in children with autistic disorder and could be considered a drug of choice.
NEJM, Aug 2002, Vol. 347 (5)
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