The use of Citalopram in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders

By Marlena N. Smith

In a recent study, King et al. did not find citalopram to be effective in improving repetitive behavior in children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). Children with ASD are commonly prescribed selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors; however, research investigating the use of this medication in children with ASD is limited. King et al. set out to investigate the effectiveness of citalopram in treating repetitive behavior in children with ASD as compared to placebo.

Participants included 149 individuals with ASD, ages 5 to 17 years. The participants were randomly selected to receive either citalopram or placebo for the duration of 12 weeks. Treatment effectiveness was evaluated via measures of positive response, repetitive behavior, and negative effects.

Results revealed no significant differences between citalopram and placebo in measures of positive response and repetitive behavior. On the other hand, citalopram was significantly more likely to have negative effects including:

• Greater energy level
• Impulsive behavior
• Reduced concentration
• Hyperactivity
• Stereotyped behavior
• Diarrhea
• Insomnia
• Dry or itchy skin

Citalopram was not found to improve repetitive behavior in children with ASD. These findings do not support the use of citalopram in children with ASD. Further research regarding the use of citalopram and other selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors in children with ASD is warranted.


King, B. H., Hollander, E., Sikich, L., McCracken, J. T., Scahill, L., Bregman, J. D.,… Ritz, L. (2009). Lack of efficacy of citalopram in children with autism spectrum disorders and high levels of repetitive behavior: Citalopram ineffective in children with autism. Archives of General Psychiatry, 66, 583-590.

No comments:

Post a Comment