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Citalopram not effective for repetitive behaviour in autistic spectrum disorders

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How effective and safe is citalopram treatment for reducing repetitive behaviour in children and adolescents with autistic spectrum disorders?


149 participants aged 5–17 years who met DSM-IV-TR criteria for autistic disorder, Asperger disorder, or pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified, as determined by an experienced clinician (median age 9 years, 73% male, 49% with non-verbal IQ above 70). Eligible participants had to have an illness severity rating of at least moderate on the Clinical Global Impressions (CGI) Severity of Illness scale and at least a moderate score (>8) on the Children's Yale-Brown Obsessive Compulsive Scale for Pervasive Developmental Disorders (CYBOCS-PDD). Anyone taking concomitant medication for psychotropic conditions or medication known to interact with citalopram was excluded.


Six academic medical centres in the USA; recruitment April 2004–October 2006.


Citalopram (10 mg/5 ml, in liquid form) or placebo for 12 weeks. All participants started with 2.5 mg/day citalopram which was increased daily, biweekly or weekly depending on weight, to a possible maximum dose of 20 mg/day. These doses were continued until the CGI improvement (CGI-I) scale was rated as improved or above, but reduced if a dose limiting adverse effect was …

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  • Sources of funding National Institutes of Health.


  • Competing interests none

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