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Greater numbers of autistic children in the UK should be given antidepressants such as Prozac® (fluoxetine) in a bid to control their condition, according to an academic psychiatrist.
Professor Eric Hollander, head of psychiatry at New York City’s Mount Sinai School of Medicine, claims selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) can reduce anxiety and disruptive behaviour.
He said more than a third of children with autism in the USA take SSRIs, but he claims the figure for the UK is a “lot less”.
He added: “I do think that many of these individuals can benefit from this type of treatment.
“It really should be considered as part of an overall treatment package.”
Prof Hollander said clinicians may “not be comfortable” using these types of medicines in autistic children.
But trials – some on children as young as two – suggest there are benefits from stepping in and offering treatment at a young age.
Mount Sinai is a shareholder in drug firm Neuropharm, which is currently developing Prozac for use in autistic children.
Some 126 children have already been recruited for a phase III clinical trial into the drug.
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