Posted by Deborah Pujoue on February 1, 2012
Now I’m not sure if I this makes any sense, but a new study is claiming that Prozac may be a useful tool in treating a major symptom of autism spectrum disorder (repetitive, compulsive behavior). This newly-published study is claiming that of the autistic adults that participated, half of those who took the Prozac showed a significant decline in their repetitive behavior.
This is just strange to me since SSRI medications like Prozac have also been linked to causing birth defects in babies whose mothers took the drug while pregnant. I understand that previous studies (conducted by the same researchers) have shown that antidepressants like Prozac work at lowering the same kinds of repetitive behavior in kids that have autistic spectrum disorder (ASD), but it didn’t work when giving the kids Celexa, which is another SSRI antidepressant medication.
This study is claiming that SSRI medications can do the same for adults that it does for kids with ASD. One of the researchers, Eric Hollander, MD, of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine and Montefiore Medical Center in Bronx, N.Y., said “This medication improves one of the core symptoms of autism in adults, and this can make a big difference in their lives and the lives of their families.”
That may be true, but I can’t help wondering if anyone has thought about the serious adverse side effects of these medications. In addition to worrying about the birth defects (cleft palate, PPHN, neural tube defects) that these drugs cause to babies exposed while in utero, other harmful side effects should be considered. For example, SSRIs like Prozac and Paxil are known to cause aggressive and even homicidal behavior in some patients. The drugs have also been linked to suicidal thoughts and behavior as well.
While I understand that antidepressants like Prozac and Celexa are occasionally used to treat adults with autism, I think that more clinical studies have to take place to verify that this type of treatment offers more benefits than risks.