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Celexa May Not Help Kids With Autism
Date:6/1/2009

Study finds no benefit, and more side effects, but not all agree,,,,

MONDAY, June 1 (HealthDay News) -- In contrast to the assumptions of some doctors, new research suggests that the antidepressant Celexa does not help relieve repetitive behaviors often seen in children and teens with autism.

But the findings still need to be confirmed by other studies, and at least one autism specialist said the drug has worked well in his patients of preschool age, who are younger than those in the study.

"The jury is still out on how autism should be treated," said the specialist, Dr. Andrew Zimmerman, a pediatric neurologist and director of medical autism research at the Kennedy Krieger Institute in Baltimore.

Antidepressants known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs, are a common treatment for autism and given to perhaps 30 percent of children with the condition, said Dr. Bryan King, lead author of the study. Other common treatments, he said, include antipsychotic drugs, which calm people who use them, and stimulants such as Ritalin, which reduce hyperactivity and impulsive behaviors.

Celexa, also known by the generic name citalopram, is lesser known than similar antidepressants such as Prozac and Paxil. But it's easier to prescribe to autistic children because it comes in a liquid form, meaning that parents don't have to force their children to take pills, said King, a researcher and director of psychiatry and behavioral medicine at Seattle Children's Hospital and the University of Washington.

Also, the drug spends less time in the body before being flushed out, making it easier for doctors to quickly adjust the dosage, he said.

King's research team assumed that Celexa reduces symptoms of autism in children, such as repetitive motions, but they wanted to understand more about its powers.

"We didn't expect it to work for everyone, but we were hoping that we'd be abl
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