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Safety Issues With Drug Therapies for Autism Spectrum Disorders.

James T. McCracken, MD

Published: December 15, 2005

Article Abstract

Although currently no medication has been approved to treat autism spectrum disorders, surveydata show that community practitioners are prescribing a broad range of medication treatments, including,but not limited to, antidepressants, stimulants, antipsychotics, alpha agonists, and anticonvulsants.Patients with autism spectrum disorders are also taking alternative treatments, including herbalremedies, immunologic treatments, and vitamin therapies, which may themselves produce side effectsand/or create drug interactions with traditional medications. Although short-term data on the efficacyand safety of commonly prescribed treatments for autism spectrum disorders are increasing, few dataare currently available on long-term treatment for autism spectrum disorders, but available studies andclinical experience can offer preliminary recommendations on the safety of and monitoring needs forthe medications currently used for these disorders. Monitoring the safety and tolerability of drugsused in patients with these disorders should minimize the burden of side effects and optimize treatmentoutcome.

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