A few days ago I stumbled upon an article in the Sydney Morning Herald about an experimental treatment for various disorders, including autism. The treatment involves stimulation of various parts of the brain using magnetic fields. The treatment is called transcranial magnetic stimulation or (TMS).
In my last post (see below) I pointed out an interesting article in the NYT about a new trend in diagnosing preschool age children with clinical depression. In the post I expressed concern about that and another trend I had noticed myself recently while reading about autism, which is an increase in co-diagnosing autism with other disorders, such as bipolar disorder, and the prescribing of antipsychotic drugs to children receiving these diagnoses. Without having researched the issue very deeply, though, I indicated that I was probably being too critical.
Well, today there is yet another fascinating article in the NYT (see here) and coincidentally it is about this very issue of the new trend in prescribing antipsychotic drugs to young children. The article seems to validate (and then some) the concerns I expressed in my last post.
A few autism-related news items of note over the past week:
(1) [No surprise] Anti-depressants found to be ineffective for treatment of autism
The Boston Globe reports the following:
Children and adults with autism spectrum disorders have trouble with communication and social interaction. There are no drugs specifically approved to treat these problems, although antidepressants are sometimes recommended. But a new analysis finds no evidence that they help people with autism and some signs that they may cause harm in children.
The full story is here.
Dave: Last time I checked anti-depressants were found to be barely better than placebos in treating depression, which is the disease they were designed for, so it’s hardly surprising to me that they don’t work for autism. As far as I know, it has never been demonstrated that there is a link between low serotonin levels and autism, so it is hard to understand how these drugs could help address autistic symptoms. But with roughly 1% of the population suffering from this disease, it clearly behooves drug companies to promote this as a possible treatment, especially since they wouldn’t have to spend any money on development.
Posted in Autism
Tagged autism, health
Like most Canadians I was somewhat disturbed to learn recently that the security costs for the upcoming G20 summit in Toronto will exceed $1 billion. Given that it allegedly cost a mere $30 million to secure the London summit in April 2009 and $18 million to secure Pittsburgh last September, I would say that Canadian taxpayers are certainly entitled to question a security bill that is several orders of magnitude greater than that for previous, comparable events. Continue reading