Nearly half of children and young adults with autism in receipt of the antipsychotic risperidone also displayed hyperprolactinemia – elevated levels of the hormone prolactin – according to new research by Yaowaluck Hongkaew and colleagues based in Bangkok, Thailand.
Based on an analysis of blood samples taken from nearly 150 participants diagnosed with autism taking risperidone either singularly or in combination with other medicines, researchers reported that 44% of the group (66 of 147 people) presented with hyperprolactinemia “defined as a prolactin level above percentile 97.5 on the basis of normative data for age and sex.” Prolactin is the hormone best known for enabling females to produce milk and stimulating breast development. In males, prolactin seems to have no known normal function. Researchers concluded that “risperidone treatment causes prolactin elevations”, also finding something of a dose-related relationship with measured prolactin levels.
Risperidone is an atypical antipsychotic used to manage various conditions and behaviours. More typically indicated for diagnoses such as schizophrenia, it has also been approved in the United States for the management of irritability in children and adolescents diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Such as judgement was based on various studies observing a positive effect on such behaviours.
Alongside the possible benefits following the use of risperidone, the drug also carries a number of known side-effects. Weight gain is one of the more commonly discussed issues, although elevations in prolactin levels have also been noted. In some cases, elevated levels of prolactin are accompanied by gynecomastia, an enlargement of breast tissue in males. Litigation is currently underway looking at such circumstances potentially following risperidone use in cases of autism.
* Hongkaew Y. et al. Hyperprolactinemia in Thai children and adolescents with autism spectrum disorder treated with risperidone. Neuropsychiatr Dis Treat. 2015 Jan 22;11:191-6.
Read more about this research at: http://questioning-answers.blogspot.com/2015/02/hyperprolactinemia-and-risperidone-use-in-autism.html