Autism Symptoms May Soon Be Eased With a Common Heart Drug

Health Check 11

Many experts describe autism as a developmental disorder that can potentially result in communication problems, social difficulties, repetitive behaviors, and restricted interests. What no one can seem to agree on is what, exactly, causes autism ... and what treatment is ideal for an affected child.

The treatment question is a difficult one, because every child (or adult) with autism is different, and autistic behaviors and symptoms can greatly vary from one person to the next. While deciding on the right course of therapy will likely never be easy, there's news that seems enormously promising for those affected by the disorder: researchers believe there may soon be a drug that can help ease some of the symptoms.

In a recent study, autistic children who took this medication showed measurable improvements over a 90-day period -- and best of all, the drug's side effects were extremely mild.

The drug is called Bumetanide, and it's typically prescribed to control high blood pressure (many refer to this type of drug as a water pill). Researchers believe that the medication alters the function of a particular neurotransmitter (Gamma-aminobutyric acid), thus improving how people with autism process chemical messages in the brain.

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Researchers studied 60 autistic children between 3 and 11 over a three-month period, and they discovered reduced symptoms among the children who took bumetanide:

The effects of the medication were more pronounced in children with milder autism. In case reports included in the study, some of the improvements seen included more eye contact, improved non-verbal communication, and better social communication.

There are, of course, more studies that need to be done before anyone can declare this drug to be a recommended treatment option. Children would need to take the medication indefinitely, so the potential for long-term effects is a concern. Still, the good news is that bumetanide is already FDA-approved, so hopefully it won't take many more years before we hear more about whether this medication could be exactly what many parents have been hoping for.

Had you heard about this study? Do you think the results sound encouraging?


Image via meandthesysop/Flickr

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Rando... Randomlady

The only problem I see with this article is that they say it was profound on children with milder forms of autism. Are they going to work on a kid with severe autism? What will it do to them?

Jamie Lechner

We already tried that for my son with Asperger's and we saw no results whatsoever. I am glad, however, to FINALLY be reading about someone trying to treat Autism instead of blaming it on something for a change.

AMom29 AMom29

Our dr. mentioned a possible treatment for ADHD using a blood pressure medicine...I wonder if this is the same one. 

miche... michellerobenee

I have no belief in anything for help until it is proven beyond a shadow of a doubt.  Remember when the Playboy bunny said that Gluten causes Autism.  BS!


...although my son takes an ADD med and it helps a tiny bit.

Jocelyn Amber Potts

@ michellerobenee


Gluten causes Autistic symptoms- before this was known it was thought as a cause of Austism.


Google celiac disease, or watch the episode of Mysterious Diagnosis, Season 1, Episode 2: Like Mother, Like Son.

Amanda Marie Mahrling

My autistic son does already take a blood pressure medicine, it's called Intuniv. 

mommy... mommy1605

My son takes Clonidine at night time, which is a blood pressure medicine, to make him tired and sleep. Then again, there are still some nights where it doesn't help and he is up all night and so am I with him. He also has ADHD and is taking vyvanse, and it is absolutely wonderful. It doesn't turn him into a zombie and we have had very little side effects. It is refreshing to see studies being done to help those who have Autism rather than trying to prevent it somehow when we still don't entirely know the problem (I believe it's genetics).

nonmember avatar mommy4g

Celiac diseasae causes symptoms SIMILAR TO but NOT autism. Celiac disease causes these symptoms because the brain is starved of nutrients it needs to function. I have a friend whose daughter has Celiac disease. Her symptoms were very similar to autism. On a gluten free diet, she began to recover. She is fine now. But to the untrained eye she appeared to be autistic. She was diagnosed when she was around 2ish.

Bob192 Bob192

It would be great if they could find something to help them!!  Even if it only treats milder symptoms, it could lead to further research for children with severe autism.

coppe... copperswifey

I have never heard of it before. It does sound very encouraging though :)

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