Pediatric Drugs

, Volume 9, Issue 4, pp 249–266 | Cite as

Atypical Antipsychotics in Children with Pervasive Developmental Disorders

  • Benjamin Chavez
  • Mapy Chavez-Brown
  • Michael A. SopkoJr
  • Jose A. Rey
Review Article


The treatment of pervasive developmental disorders (PDDs) is a challenging task, which should include behavioral therapy modifications as well as pharmacologic therapy. There has been a lack of data on using medications in children with PDDs until recent years. Within the last 10 years, an increase in clinical research has attempted to provide efficacy and safety data to support the use of medications in children with PDDs. Double-blinded and open-label research of atypical antipsychotics has been of particular focus.

Evidence shows that atypical antipsychotics (AAs) may be useful in treating certain symptoms associated with PDDs, such as aggression, irritability, and self-injurious behavior. This article reviews the literature regarding the use of AAs in children with PDDs. Of the AAs, risperidone has the largest amount of evidence with five published double-blinded, placebo-controlled trials and nine open-label trials. These risperidone trials have consistently shown improvements in aggression, irritability, self-injurious behavior, temper tantrums, and quickly changing moods associated with autistic disorder and other PDDs. Data for the other AAs are limited, but ziprasidone and aripiprazole appear to be promising treatment options. Based on clinical trials, olanzapine and quetiapine have shown minimal clinical benefit and a high incidence of weight gain and sedation. It should be noted that all AAs do have a risk of metabolic syndrome, and patients should be monitored appropriately while receiving these medications.

Overall, AAs can be beneficial in alleviating behavioral symptoms, and should be considered an appropriate therapeutic option, as part of a comprehensive treatment strategy, for children with PDD.


Clozapine Risperidone Olanzapine Quetiapine Aripiprazole 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



There was no funding necessary for this review article. Benjamin Chavez, Mapy Chavez-Brown, and Michael A. Sopko Jr have no conflicts of interest. Jose A. Rey is a consultant for Bristol-Myers Squibb, Ortho-McNeil Neurologics, Janssen Pharmaceutical, and AstraZeneca; has received honoraria from Janssen Pharmaceutical; and owns stock/options for Bristol-Myers Squibb.


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Copyright information

© Adis Data Information BV 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Benjamin Chavez
    • 1
    • 2
  • Mapy Chavez-Brown
    • 3
  • Michael A. SopkoJr
    • 1
  • Jose A. Rey
    • 4
  1. 1.Rutgers, State University of New JerseyPiscatawayUSA
  2. 2.Monmouth Medical CenterLong BranchUSA
  3. 3.Wagner CollegeStaten IslandUSA
  4. 4.Nova Southeastern UniversityFort LauderdaleUSA

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