Citalopram (Celexa), a medication commonly prescribed to children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD), was no more effective than a placebo at reducing repetitive behaviors, according to a multi-site clinical trial guided by lead author Bryan H. King, MD, director of child and adolescent psychiatry at Seattle Children's Hospital and professor and vice chair of psychiatry at the University of Washington School of Medicine.
Because citalopram is also prescribed for patients with obsessive compulsive disorders (OCD), these study results may challenge the widely held premise that repetitive behaviors in children with ASD are similar to repetitive behaviors often found in cases of OCD.
"We're continuing to learn new information about the multiple variables that may cause or contribute to autism spectrum disorders, as well as how to treat them," said King. "Even as our understanding of autism grows, so much still remains a mystery. While our study's findings may be frustrating news for hopeful families and clinicians, each new finding helps us to re-examine and revise treatment plans, refine future studies and build upon what we know as we search for effective treatments and eventually cures for this complex group of disorders."
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