Trial compares SSRI vs. placebo for obsessive-compulsive behaviors in kids, teens with ASD

October 22, 2019

Bottom Line: Researchers compared the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) fluoxetine with placebo for reducing the frequency and severity of obsessive-compulsive behaviors in children and adolescents with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in this randomized clinical trial in Australia. The trial included 146 participants (ages 7 to 18) with ASDs; 75 received fluoxetine and 71 received placebo for 16 weeks. Of the participants, 109 completed the trial. The authors report that for the primary outcome (total scores on an obsessive-compulsive scale modified for pervasive developmental disorder) treatment with fluoxetine compared with placebo resulted in lower scores for obsessive-compulsive behaviors but the interpretation of that finding is limited by a number of factors. These factors include the study's high dropout rate and significant differences found between groups in some measures at baseline.

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Authors: Dinah S. Reddihough, M.D., of the Royal Children's Hospital, Melbourne, Australia, and coauthors.

(doi:10.1001/jama.2019.14685)

Editor's Note: The article includes conflict of interest and funding/support disclosures. Please see the article for additional information, including other authors, author contributions and affiliations, financial disclosures, funding and support, etc.

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Media advisory: To contact corresponding author Dinah S. Reddihough, M.D., email dinah.reddihough@rch.org.au. The full study and editorial are linked to this news release.

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