New information seems to be coming out daily about autism and Atlanta Hyperbaric has seen more referrals for hyperbaric oxygen treatment of autistic children this year than previously. As a matter of fact, there may be more autistic children around than previously thought. A new government study of parent-reported cases of autism, claimed higher rates than previous studies. Based on a survey performed in 2007, this study found an autism rate of 110 per 10,000, or about 637,000 in the United States overall. Boys had autism rates about 4 times that of girls. Perhaps most interesting is that some children might possibly outgrow the disease. Almost 2 out of 5 of these children had been given a diagnosis of autism at some point in their lives, but currently were not believed to have autism. The authors cautiously pointed out the diagnosis of autism is less precise in the youngest children, so that some of the children diagnosed at a younger age simply never had autism and this fact became more obvious as the child grew up. On the other hand, many pediatricians who have been following patients for long periods believe that some autistic children do recover.
Most psychiatrists prefer to call the newer antipsychotic medications “atypical antipsychotics” rather than “second-generation antipsychotics.” Perhaps that’s because the first one, clozapine (Clozaril®), was discovered in the 1950’s. In any case, resperidone (Risperdal ®,) which was first marketed in the United States during the 1990’s, is approved by the FDA for treatment of irritability in autistic children. At the American Academy of Neurology meeting this Spring, researchers reported that another atypical antipsychotic, aripiprazole (Abilify®), was significantly better than placebo for irritability and hyperactivity in autistic children. Although use of Abilify® for this indication is off label, pediatricians will have an alternative to Risperdal® to consider.