Diuretic Drug Treatment for Autism: Bumetanide May Overpromise

drug therapy for autism “Bumetanide”- a drug that was used for treating high blood pressure  can help an autistic child to show overall improvement in behaviors.

The findings of the research are published in the December 2012 issue of Translational Psychiatry. The parents whose children underwent the treatment claimed that they have seen positive changes in the behavior of their children after taking the drug. According to the parents, they performed better in terms of interacting with others.

A group of sixty autistic children aged within three to eleven participated in the experiment and took the drug on a daily basis for three months. The participants were provided randomly with a placebo or bumetanide to see if the drug leaves any impact on their behavior.

The scientists found that those who received bumetanide improved by as much as 5.6 points on a scale of 60 points which was used to evaluate the behavior of the an autistic child. The outcome was good enough for the scientists to come to the conclusion that bumetanide has the capability to reduce the severity of autism of a child. However, the study didn’t focus on the improvement of any specific set of symptoms but emphasized more on the overall performance. The study shows that the autistic children who took bumetanide performed considerably well in terms of social interaction and communication. However, the study size is viewed by many as too small a trial sample, too short a time frame and the drug did not appear to have any impact on those who are severely autistic.

It is to be mentioned that, Autism interferes with the neurotransmitter known as GABA that has the effect of dampening the neural activities. It was found that Bumetanide has the ability to enhance GABA’s inhibitory effects. And using this drug is expected to be safe since it has been used as a diuretic for treating different kidney, heart lung diseases. While doses are lower, critics point out that the impact on the other systems of some with autism is not being properly considered.

Currently there are only two drugs, approved to treat autism. They are risperidone and aripiprazole but they seem more inclined to increase irritability and aggression rather than social and communication difficulties. Other alternatives are a welcome to families and doctors.