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Originally published August 13 2010

Antidepressants do nothing for children with autism

by Jonathan Benson, staff writer

(NaturalNews) A new report published in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews has once again found that the antidepressants commonly prescribed to children with autism are not effective at improving behavior. After evaluating seven different studies about selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and autism, the team says there is no evidence that they work any better than a placebo at helping autistic children.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not approved any medications to specifically treat autism, but they have approved three SSRIs -- sertraline (Zoloft), fluoxetine (Prozac) and fluvoxamine (Luvox) -- to alleviate certain symptoms of the illness. But according to the research, it appears these drugs are being needlessly prescribed because they do not provide any benefits.

The new study hinges upon a government-funded investigation last year that found that the antidepressant citalopram (Celexa) is no better than a placebo at alleviating autism symptoms. Upon further investigation, researchers came to realize that all related studies on other antidepressants revealed the same thing.

Besides not working, these antidepressants often cause major side effects, especially in young people. In the citalopram study, one child participant developed severe seizures from taking the drug. Even after being taken off it, the child continued to have seizures. Other children taking it had a hard time sleeping and concentrating.

The team recommends that children continue to take these medications if they seem to be helping and are not inducing side effects, but it remains to be seen whether or not the findings will affect how doctors prescribe SSRIs to autistic children going forward.

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