Antipsychotics and Autism: Weighing the Benefits, Eyeing the Risks

Source: Interactive Autism Network
Written By: Marina Sarris

Children and adults with autism are sometimes prescribed an array of psychiatric drugs for hyperactivity, poor attention, or challenging behaviors. One type of medication, called antipsychotics, has become something of a “go-to” treatment for the most severe behaviors. According to the latest studies, one in five or six youth with autism has taken them,1,2 along with 43 percent of adults with autism, on average.3 Antipsychotics are the most frequently used type of psychiatric drug in autism.3

That may be because two antipsychotics are the only drugs approved specifically for certain behaviors in children and teens with autism.1 The U.S. Food and Drug Administration gave its stamp of approval to aripiprazole (brand name Abilify) and risperidone (brand name Risperdal) for “irritability” in autism – namely self-injury and aggression – almost a decade ago. More recently, the U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality weighed the scientific evidence on those medications. It found significant benefits and also “harms,” or bad side effects.5 The drugs reduce challenging and repetitive behaviors when compared to no treatment. They also are associated with significant weight gain, sedation, tremors and movement disorders, it noted. Click here to read the rest of the story

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