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Paediatr Drugs. 2007;9(4):249-66.

Atypical antipsychotics in children with pervasive developmental disorders.

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Rutgers, State University of New Jersey, Piscataway, New Jersey, USA.


The treatment of pervasive developmental disorders (PDDs) is a challenging task, which should include behavioral therapy modifications as well as pharmacologic therapy. There has been a lack of data on using medications in children with PDDs until recent years. Within the last 10 years, an increase in clinical research has attempted to provide efficacy and safety data to support the use of medications in children with PDDs. Double-blinded and open-label research of atypical antipsychotics has been of particular focus. Evidence shows that atypical antipsychotics (AAs) may be useful in treating certain symptoms associated with PDDs, such as aggression, irritability, and self-injurious behavior. This article reviews the literature regarding the use of AAs in children with PDDs. Of the AAs, risperidone has the largest amount of evidence with five published double-blinded, placebo-controlled trials and nine open-label trials. These risperidone trials have consistently shown improvements in aggression, irritability, self-injurious behavior, temper tantrums, and quickly changing moods associated with autistic disorder and other PDDs. Data for the other AAs are limited, but ziprasidone and aripiprazole appear to be promising treatment options. Based on clinical trials, olanzapine and quetiapine have shown minimal clinical benefit and a high incidence of weight gain and sedation. It should be noted that all AAs do have a risk of metabolic syndrome, and patients should be monitored appropriately while receiving these medications. Overall, AAs can be beneficial in alleviating behavioral symptoms, and should be considered an appropriate therapeutic option, as part of a comprehensive treatment strategy, for children with PDD.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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