Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Little evidence supports medical treatment options for adolescents with autism, researchers say

Date:
September 24, 2012
Source:
Vanderbilt University Medical Center
Summary:
Researchers are reporting that there is insufficient evidence to support the use of medical interventions in adolescents and young adults with autism. Despite studies that show that many adolescents and young adults with autism spectrum disorders are being prescribed medications, there is almost no evidence to show whether these medications are helpful in this population, the researchers said.

Vanderbilt University researchers are reporting today that there is insufficient evidence to support the use of medical interventions in adolescents and young adults with autism.

Despite studies that show that many adolescents and young adults with autism spectrum disorders are being prescribed medications, there is almost no evidence to show whether these medications are helpful in this population, the researchers said.

These findings are featured in the Sept. 24 issue of Pediatrics.

"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," said Jeremy Veenstra-VanderWeele, M.D., assistant professor of Psychiatry, Pediatrics and Pharmacology and Vanderbilt Kennedy Center investigator. "Individuals, families and clinicians currently have to make decisions together, often in a state of desperation, without clear guidance on what might make things better and what might make things worse, and too often, people with autism spectrum disorders end up on one or more medications without a clear sense of whether the medicine is helping."

This research is part of a larger report on interventions for adolescents and young adults with autism that found there is little evidence to support findings, good or bad, for all therapies currently used.

The researchers systematically screened more than 4,500 studies and reviewed the 32 studies published from January 1980 to December 2011 on therapies for people ages 13 to 30 with autism spectrum disorders. They focused on the outcomes, including harms and adverse effects, of interventions, including medical, behavioral, educational and vocational.

Key findings:

  • Some evidence revealed that treatments could improve social skills and educational outcomes such as vocabulary or reading, but the studies were generally small and had limited follow-up.
  • Limited evidence supports the use of medical interventions in adolescents and young adults with autism. The most consistent findings were identified for the effects of antipsychotic medications on reducing problem behaviors that tend to occur with autism, such as irritability and aggression. Harms associated with medications included sedation and weight gain.
  • Only five articles tested vocational interventions, all of which suggested that certain vocational interventions may be effective for certain individuals, but each study had significant flaws that limited the researchers' confidence in their conclusions. The findings on vocational interventions were featured in the Aug. 27 issue of Pediatrics.

Although the prevalence of autism is on the rise, much remains to be discovered when it comes to interventions for this population, the researchers concluded.

As recently as the 1970s, autism was believed to affect just one in 2,000 children, but newly released data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that one in 88 children has an autism spectrum disorder. Boys with autism outnumber girls 5-to-1, which estimates that one in 54 boys in the United States has autism.

Additional investigators on this report include Melissa McPheeters, Ph.D., MPH, director of Vanderbilt's Evidence-Based Practice Center and senior author; Zachary Warren, Ph.D., director of the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center's Treatment and Research Institute for Autism Spectrum Disorders; Julie Lounds Taylor, Ph.D., assistant professor of Pediatrics and Special Education and lead author; Dwayne Dove, M.D., Ph.D., fellow in Developmental-Behavioral Pediatrics; Nila Sathe, M.S., M.L.I.S., program manager, Institute for Medicine and Public Health; and Rebecca Jerome, M.L.I.S., MPH, assistant director, Eskind Biomedical Library.

Their research, Interventions for Adolescents and Young Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorders, was funded by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality's Effective Health Care Program and conducted through Vanderbilt's Evidence-Based Practice Center.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Vanderbilt University Medical Center. The original article was written by Jennifer Wetzel. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal References:

  1. Dwayne Dove, Zachary Warren, Melissa L. McPheeters, Julie Lounds Taylor, Nila A. Sathe, and Jeremy Veenstra-VanderWeele. Medications for Adolescents and Young Adults With Autism Spectrum Disorders: A Systematic Review. Pediatrics, 2012; DOI: 10.1542/peds.2012-0683
  2. J. L. Taylor, M. L. McPheeters, N. A. Sathe, D. Dove, J. Veenstra-VanderWeele, Z. Warren. A Systematic Review of Vocational Interventions for Young Adults With Autism Spectrum Disorders. Pediatrics, 2012; 130 (3): 531 DOI: 10.1542/peds.2012-0682

Cite This Page:

Vanderbilt University Medical Center. "Little evidence supports medical treatment options for adolescents with autism, researchers say." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 24 September 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/09/120924144058.htm>.
Vanderbilt University Medical Center. (2012, September 24). Little evidence supports medical treatment options for adolescents with autism, researchers say. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 30, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/09/120924144058.htm
Vanderbilt University Medical Center. "Little evidence supports medical treatment options for adolescents with autism, researchers say." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/09/120924144058.htm (accessed July 30, 2014).

Share This




More Mind & Brain News

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

It's Not Just Facebook: OKCupid Experiments With Users Too

It's Not Just Facebook: OKCupid Experiments With Users Too

Newsy (July 29, 2014) If you've been looking for love online, there's a chance somebody has been looking at how you're looking. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
How Your Face Can Leave A Good Or Bad First Impression

How Your Face Can Leave A Good Or Bad First Impression

Newsy (July 29, 2014) Researchers have found certain facial features can make us seem more attractive or trustworthy. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Losing Sleep Leaves You Vulnerable To 'False Memories'

Losing Sleep Leaves You Vulnerable To 'False Memories'

Newsy (July 27, 2014) A new study shows sleep deprivation can make it harder for people to remember specific details of an event. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
University Quiz Implies Atheists Are Smarter Than Christians

University Quiz Implies Atheists Are Smarter Than Christians

Newsy (July 25, 2014) An online quiz from a required course at Ohio State is making waves for suggesting atheists are inherently smarter than Christians. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins