Naltrexone in Autistic Children: Behavioral Symptoms and Attentional Learning

MAGDA CAMPBELL, LOWELL T. ANDERSON, ARTHUR M. SMALL, PHILLIP ADAMS, NILDA M. GONZALEZ, MONTIQUE ERNST

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

To assess critically the short-term efficacy and safety of naltrexone in autistic children and its effects on discrimination learning in the laboratory. A parallel group design was employed. After a 2-week placebo baseline period, children were randomly assigned either to naltrexone or to placebo for a period of 3 weeks followed by a one-week posttreatment placebo period. Multiple raters and rating scales were employed in a variety of conditions. Forty-one children, all inpatients, ages 2.9 to 7.8 years, completed the study. Naltrexone reduced hyperactivity and had no effect on discrimination learning in the laboratory. There was a suggestion that it had a beneficial effect on decreasing self-injurious behavior. Untoward effects were mild and transient. In the present study, naltrexone significantly reduced only hyperactivity, and no serious untoward effects were observed. The effectiveness of naltrexone in the treatment of autism and self-injurious behavior requires additional assessment in a sample of children with moderate to severe self-injurious behavior. J. Am. Acad. Child Adolesc. Psychiatry, 1993, 32, 6:1283–1291.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1283-1291
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
Volume32
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - 1993

Keywords

  • autism
  • discrimination learning
  • naltrexone
  • self-injurious behavior

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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