Limited Evidence on Medication Use for Youth With Autism

Review IDs lack of evidence on medication use for 13- to 30-year-olds with autism spectrum disorder

MONDAY, Sept. 24 (HealthDay News) -- There is a lack of evidence supporting the use of medications in adolescents and young adults with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs), according to a review published online Sept. 24 in Pediatrics.

Dwayne Dove, M.D., Ph.D., from Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn., and colleagues conducted a systematic review to examine medication treatments for individuals between the ages of 13 and 30 with ASD.

Eight studies were identified, of which four were of fair quality. The researchers found that the strength of evidence was insufficient for all outcomes associated with medications examined within the study population. The most consistent findings were seen in two available studies of risperidone, which supported moderate evidence for treating problem behavior, including aggression, in children with ASD, and strong evidence for adverse events, including sedation and weight gain.

"Given the number of individuals affected by ASD, there is a dramatic lack of evidence on best approaches to therapies for adolescents and young adults with these conditions," the authors write. "Little evidence supports the use of medication treatments in the adolescent and young adult population."

One author disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry.

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