Medication Study for Adolescents with Autism

According to a recent study by Vanderbuilt University researchers, adolescents with autism are being prescribed medication but there is little to no evidence showing whether these medications are helpful.

Assistant professor of Psychiatry, Pediatrics and Pharmacology and Vanderbilt Kennedy Center investigator, Jeremy Veenstra-VanderWeele, M.D. commented, “We need more research to be able to understand how to treat core symptoms of autism in this population, as well as common associated symptoms such as anxiety, compulsive behaviors and agitation.”

Clinicians, families and patients may make hasty decisions regarding medication because of this lack of evidence, often without completely knowing which treatments could make things better or what might make them worse.
This specific study is a small piece of research on interventions for adolescents and young adults with autism spectrum disorders that has found little evidence to support conclusions for all therapies currently used either good or bad.
Over 4,500 studies and specifically reviewed 32 studies on therapies for people ages 13 to 30 with asd were investigated by researchers. The results they concentrated on were harmful and unfavorable effects of interventions, including educational, behavioral, vocational, and medical.
The most constant finding was seen in relation to the effects of antipsychotic medications on reducing behaviors associated with autism such as aggressiveness and irritability. Side effects seen with this type of medication include weight gain and lethargy. The evidence was minimal in favor of using medical interventions in adolescents and young adults with autism.Although there were some flaws, researchers saw vocational interventions to be effective for some people but not others.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that one in 88 children suffers from an autism spectrum disorder. Boys are affected more than girls 5-to-1, estimating that one in every 54 boys in the United States has autism. The authors concluded that much remains to be learned on the topic of interventions and adolescents with autism.
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