Side effects of meds weigh heavily on children with autism

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Side effects of meds weigh heavily on children with autism

Postby Winnie » Wed Oct 12, 2016 2:48 pm

Side effects of meds weigh heavily on children with autism

by Ann Griswold / 12 October 2016

A sweeping study of military health records reveals that children with autism are at risk for a host of obesity-related health issues, such as high blood pressure and diabetes. These issues are especially common among children who take drugs to ease autism features1.

The findings highlight the complexity of treating anxiety and repetitive behaviors in children with autism without creating or exacerbating chronic health problems. These children often have trouble controlling their weight even when not taking medications, because many are picky eaters or get little exercise.

But “sometimes children with autism do need to be medicated,” says lead researcher Cade Nylund, assistant professor of pediatrics at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, Maryland. “Parents need to understand the risks; providers need to explain the risks.”

The study, published in August in the Journal of Pediatrics, is the largest yet to explore autism’s ties to obesity. Nylund’s team examined military health records from 292,572 children aged 2 to 18, including 48,762 children with autism. The researchers compared rates of obesity, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular and liver disease in children with and without autism (see graphic below). They also looked at the impact of medication use on obesity rates in children with autism.

The analysis revealed that about 8.2 percent of children with autism are obese compared with 4.7 percent of typical children.

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