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Common Heart Drug Might Dampen Some Autism Symptoms
Date:12/11/2012

By Serena Gordon
HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, Dec. 11 (HealthDay News) -- A medication typically prescribed to control high blood pressure that's commonly referred to as a water pill may ease some of the symptoms of autism, researchers say.

That's especially true for people who have milder forms of the disorder, the new research indicates.

"Bumetanide is a promising novel therapeutic agent to treat autism," wrote the study's authors, who were quick to point out that this treatment is not a cure for autism and that larger trials need to be done to determine who would benefit most from this treatment.

Results of the study appear online Dec. 11 in the journal Translational Psychiatry.

Autism is a developmental disorder that results in communication problems, social difficulties, repetitive behaviors and restricted interests, according to background information in the study. The exact cause of the disorder isn't yet known, though genetic and environmental factors are believed to play a role.

Scientists have also studied neurotransmitters, suspecting that these chemical messengers in the brain might not be working as they should in people with autism. Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) is one such neurotransmitter, and the medication bumetanide appears to be able to alter the function of GABA, at least in animals, according to the researchers.

In this latest study, the researchers gave 60 children who had been diagnosed with autism or Asperger's syndrome either 1 milligram of bumetanide or an inactive placebo pill daily. All of the children were between 3 and 11, and the study period lasted three months.

The severity of autism was determined by videotaped evaluations done on the first day of the study and the 90th day, by researchers who didn't know which children had received active treatment and which had been given a placebo pill.

Using several standardized autism assessment tools,
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