In Brief: Drug fails to subdue repetitive behavior in children with autism spectrum disorders

In Brief

Drug fails to subdue repetitive behavior in children with autism spectrum disorders

People with autism spectrum disorders often engage in repetitive behaviors, such as flapping their hands or arms, turning in circles, or repeating words or sounds. Although studies had suggested that selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) might help to reduce repetitive behaviors in adults with autism spectrum disorders, a randomized controlled study has found no such benefit for children taking one drug in this category — citalopram (Celexa).

Researchers at the University of Washington, Seattle, randomly assigned 149 children, ages 5 to 17, to citalopram or placebo. The children entered the study with moderate levels of repetitive behavior.

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