Divalproex vs Placebo in Childhood/Adolescent Autism

By Rupa Iyengar

Mentor: Eric Hollander M.D, Professor of Psychiatry,

Seaver and N.Y. Autism Center of Excellence

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a developmental disorder that has a
major impact on individuals with the disorder, their families, and
society. In this study we tested the efficacy of levetiracetam, commonly
known as keppra, an anticonvulsant in a 10 week placebo-controlled double
studying children. Previously this drug had been shown to work in adults.
Our hypothesis was levetiracetam may reduce global severity, impulsivity,
hyperactivity, aggression, self-injury, and affective instability in ASD
patients. As outcome measures we used Clinical Global Impressions (CGI)
to test for affective instability and global severity and the Abberant
Behavior Checklist (ABC) by both the parent and teacher to test for
hyperactivity, impulsivity, self-injurious behavior, aggression and
affective instability. We found no positive significance on any outcome
measure. We did find the children receiving drug became more irritable
and hyperactive on the ABC-teacher. Levetiracetam did not appear to be
superior to placebo in any manner. In fact levetiracetam seemed to agitate
children and make them more hyperactive in some cases indicating adverse
effects as compared to placebo. I presented a poster on this project at
Bryn Mawr College on September as part of the summer HHMI supported
research activities.

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