Diabetes drug counters weight gain associated with autism medicines
Study offers hope for children and teens who struggle with common a side effect of medications for reducing autism-associated agitation
In a small new study, a commonly used diabetes drug curbed the troublesome weight gain that is a common side effect of the only two medicines approved for reducing agitation in children and teens with autism.
The promising results of the study – which took place at four centers in the Autism Speaks Autism Treatment Network (ATN) – appear in the latest issue of JAMA Psychiatry. The research was made possible by the ATN’s federally funded role as the nation’s Autism Intervention Research Network for Physical Health.
Risperidone (brand name Risperdal) and aripiprazole (Abilify) are the only medicines approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for reducing agitation and irritability in children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). These medicines become important when serious agitation – including aggression – does not respond to non-drug, behavioral therapy. However, both risperidone and aripiprazole commonly produce significant weight gain – a worrisome side effect given obesity’s many associated health risks.
Controlling a serious side effect of autism medications
"It's critically important that we investigate new ways to support healthy outcomes as early as possible for those who are on these medications," says pediatric neurologist Evdokia Anagnostou, the study’s principal investigator and co-director of the Autism Speaks ATN at Toronto’s Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital. "Use of antipsychotics to h Continue reading