Prevalence and Patterns of Use of Psychoactive Medicines Among Individuals with Autism in the Autism Society of Ohio
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To date, there have been few surveys of psychotropic and antiepileptic drug (AED) prevalence in individuals with autism-spectrum conditions. We surveyed 747 families in the Autism Society of Ohio regarding the use of psychotropic drugs, AEDs, and over-the-counter (OTC) preparations for autism. In all, 417 families (55.8%) replied. A total of 45.6% were taking some form of psychotropic agent (including St. John's wort and melatonin), whereas 11.5% were taking AEDs, and 10.3% took OTC autism preparations. The most common psychotropic agents included antidepressants (21.6%), antipsychotics (14.9%), antihypertensives (12.5%), and stimulants (11.3%). Some 51.6% were prescribed psychotropic drugs or AEDs, and 55.4% took psychotropic drugs, AEDs, or autism supplements. Demographic variables frequently found to be associated with medication use included greater age, more severe autism, more severe intellectual handicap, and housing outside the family home. Whereas there is empirical support for the use of some of these psychotropic agents in autism, others are being prescribed with minimal research support. OTC autism preparations were used in substantial numbers of individuals, despite limited research support and the possibility of toxic effects.
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