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Higher-functioning pervasive developmental disorders: rates and patterns of psychotropic drug use.

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Child Study Center, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT, USA.



To explore the frequency, characteristics, and associated target symptoms of psychotropic drug use among subjects with higher-functioning pervasive developmental disorders (HFPDDs).


A total of 109 children, adolescents, and adults (mean age = 13.9 years, SD = 6.9) consecutively seeking enrollment into the Yale Child Study Center's Project on Social Learning Disabilities were included in the study. Individuals in whom Asperger's disorder, autism, or pervasive developmental disorder-not otherwise specified had been previously diagnosed and who had a documented Full Scale IQ > or = 70 completed surveys on demographic, clinical, and medication history information. To naturalistically evaluate medication use patterns in this population, each drug class was analyzed with respect to demographic and clinical variables.


In all, 55% of subjects were taking psychotropics, with 29.3% taking 2 or more medications simultaneously. Antidepressants were the most commonly used agents (32.1%), followed by stimulants (20.2%) and neuroleptics (16.5%). The clinical presentation of subjects taking psychotropic agents was heterogeneous, and most consistently included anxiety-related target symptoms (in 65% of medicated individuals).


Psychotropic medication use appears to be common among subjects with HFPDDs, yet not generally based on the results of empirical research. Clinical heterogeneity among treated subjects suggests that psychiatric comorbidity may be overlooked in this population.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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