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Short-term Benefit in Treating Autism with Antibiotic Agent

 
  July, 20 2000 4:02
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Study at Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke Medical Center reports short-term benefit in treating autism with antibiotic agent

Researchers at Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke's Medical Center in Chicago have shown that some children suffering from autism may experience short-term but dramatic improvement during treatment with appropriate antibiotics. The study was published in the July issue of the Journal of Child Neurology. The researchers report that when a subset of patients whose autism may involve colonization of the bowel by certain bacteria that produce a toxin were treated with antimicrobial agents, most experienced short-term improvement of their autism symptoms.

The journal article is authored by Dr. Richard Sandler, director of pediatric gastroenterology at Rush Children's Hospital, part of Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke's Medical Center in Chicago. Other key contributors are Dr. Sydney Finegold, professor of microbiology and molecular genetics at the University of California at Los Angeles Medical School and Ellen Bolte, mother of a child with autism. The Veteran's Administration Medical Center in West Los Angeles also contributed to the study. Autism typically occurs before two years of age and involves loss of language, social and play skills.

In this study, 9 of 11 children treated with the antimicrobial agent experienced improved cognitive function, behavior and social skills. The improvement was at times impressive. Unfortunately, regression usually occurred, often to the pre-treatment status.

"Additional research should address whether there are better drugs for this treatment, how long therapy should be continued, and what can be done to prevent relapse once treatment is stopped," explained Dr. Finegold. "Many questions need to be answered, " said Bolte. "These include identifying the possible mechanism of benefit, and properly identifying which autistic children follow this pattern."

Contact: Chris Martin
cmartin@rsh.net
312-942-7820
Rush Presbyterian St. Luke's Medical Center


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