FEB 08, 2016 09:55 AM PST

Could a Blood Pressure Drug Help Children With Autism?

Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder, which impairs communication and social interaction skills. The CDC reports that the disorder is on the rise, showing a 30% increase in the number of cases. While the debate has raged over whether or not the increase is due to actual new cases or better diagnostics, and research has focused on causes more than treatments, there might be new information from a study out of the University of Missouri.
A new study looked blood pressure medication for autism

The study conducted there looked at the blood pressure drug propranolol. David Beversdorf, MD, associate professor in the departments of radiology, neurology and psychological sciences at MU and the MU Thompson Center for Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disorders was the senior author of the study. In a press release  from MU he said,  “Propranolol was first reported to improve the language and sociability skills of individuals with autism in 1987, but it was not a randomized, controlled trial, and there has been little follow-up research on this drug in relation to autism. While its intended use is to treat high blood pressure, propranolol has been used off-label to treat performance anxiety for several years. However, this is the first study to show that a single dose of propranolol can improve the conversational reciprocity skills of individuals with autism.”
The study participants were 20 individuals with autism who were identified as patients at the MU Thompson Center. One group was given a 40 mg dose of the drug per day and the control group was given a placebo.
The study was double blind so patients did not know which pill they had received and neither did the researchers.  About an hour after administration, the researchers had a structured conversation with the participants, each time keeping the topic and intellectual level the same. The MU scientists scored the performance of each participant on six  social skills that were needed to maintain a two way conversation: staying on topic, sharing information, reciprocity or shared conversation, transitions or interruptions, nonverbal communication and maintaining eye contact. When the scores were tallied, the group that had received the medication did significantly better than those who had only received the placebo ()
Dr. Beversdorf stressed that this study was small and there needs to be more research on the effects after more than one dose, as well clinical trials to determine which patients might benefit the most of the medication. The study, “Effects of Propranolol on Conversational Reciprocity in Autism Spectrum Disorder: A Pilot, Double-blind, Single-dose Psychopharmacological Challenge Study,” was published in the journal Psychopharmacology. Check out the video below to learn more about autism spectrum disorders and how those on the spectrum manage their daily lives communicating with others and holding conversations.
About the Author
  • I'm a writer living in the Boston area. My interests include cancer research, cardiology and neuroscience. I want to be part of using the Internet and social media to educate professionals and patients in a collaborative environment.
You May Also Like
OCT 21, 2018
Cell & Molecular Biology
OCT 21, 2018
The Nervous System Directly Controls Stem Cell Growth
Our body relies on adult stem cells throughout our lives; we need them to continuously generate new cells as they wear out, like on the skin and in our blood....
OCT 24, 2018
OCT 24, 2018
Self-Restraint And Will Power Improves Weight-Loss: Scientific Evidence
Weight loss success linked with active self-control regions of the brain...
NOV 10, 2018
Cannabis Sciences
NOV 10, 2018
One Month Abstinence Improves Memory
A recent study from The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry ...
NOV 13, 2018
Drug Discovery
NOV 13, 2018
Clinical Trial Drug For a Rare Neurodegenrative Disease Proven Unsuccessful
Niemann-Pick type C (NPC) is a rare and fatal neurodegenerative disease. Symptoms of the condition include loss of balance, difficulty swallowing, seizures...
NOV 19, 2018
Plants & Animals
NOV 19, 2018
Communal Rearing Better Prepares Mice for the Real World, Study Finds
Researchers have long understood early-life experiences to influence actions and behavior later in life for humans, but can be same be said about animals?...
NOV 24, 2018
Genetics & Genomics
NOV 24, 2018
Alzheimer's Researchers Detect Genetic Recombination in the Brain
Our genomic sequence is thought to remain the same throughout our lives. But new research has found evidence to the contrary....
Loading Comments...