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J Child Neurol. 2004 Mar;19(3):165-9.

Treating autistic spectrum disorders in children: utility of the cholinesterase inhibitor rivastigmine tartrate.

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Autism and Epilepsy Specialty Services of Illinois, Ltd., USA.


Rivastigmine tartrate is a dual-action cholinesterase inhibitor shown to improve language, cognition, and global functioning in patients with Alzheimer's disease, likely via increased availability of cerebral acetylcholine. Because cholinergic receptor abnormalities can contribute to the neuropathology of autistic spectrum disorders, rivastigmine tartrate could prove to be an effective therapy for affected children. Observations of improved behavior and language output from prior open-label and double-blind treatment of autistic children with donepezil, another cholinesterase inhibitor, prompted this 12-week open-label study with rivastigmine tartrate of 32 autistic patients. Therapeutic indices were the Childhood Autistic Rating Scale, Gardner's Expressive and Receptive One-Word Picture Vocabulary tests, and the Conners' Parent Rating Scale. Testing administered at baseline, 6 weeks, and 12 weeks showed gains in both expressive speech and overall autistic behavior over baseline. These improvements were statistically significant and supported the hypothesis that treatment with cholinergic enhancing drugs in autistic spectrum disorders yields positive therapeutic effects.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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