Trial Shows Autism Treatment Ineffective
The antidepressant Celexa, often prescribed for children with autism, doesn't lessen the repetitive behaviors that are characteristic of the disorder, the Wall Street Journal reports. A government-funded study of 149 children with autism and similar disorders, published in Monday's Archives of General Psychiatry, found participants who received Celexa had no more benefit than children who received a placebo. A good autism treatment should improve behavior significantly in more than 50 percent of kids, study author Lawrence Scahill told the Journal. Antidepressants, shown to be effective in children with obsessive-compulsive disorder who repeat behaviors, haven't been thoroughly researched in children with autism. This study is the first to show the drugs do not help relieve repetitive behaviors of autism, which can include movement symptoms like rocking, swaying, or arm-flapping.
In April, U.S. News's Nancy Shute reported on 4 promising autism treatments, from vitamin B12 to the Alzheimer's drug Namenda. Research released a few months ago found a genetic link to autism; learn what that finding means for parents of autistic children.
Abortion Doctor's Murder: a Threat to Access?
One of only three doctors in the country to perform abortions late into pregnancy was killed Sunday in his church. While killings of abortion providers are rare—this is the first in a decade—doctors who do abortions are frequently harassed and live in fear for their lives, writes U.S. News's Deborah Kotz. The ostracism extends to doctors who perform abortions in only the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, Kotz found while interviewing gynecologists who were reluctant to speak on the record about whether women in this country are having a harder time gaining access to abortions. The safety and support of healthcare practitioners who provide them are critical if women are going to have access, she writes.
Some states have also made efforts to limit a woman's access to abortion services. While states can't outlaw abortion outright under Roe v. Wade, state legislators can make it more difficult for women to obtain abortions. Indiana, for example, has a bill pending that would require doctors who perform abortions to have admitting privileges at a hospital. Kotz gives a rundown of state abortion laws currently on the books.
Online Groups Help Parents Weigh Tough Treatment Choices
Networks of expert parents are as close as your computer, in online patient groups, U.S. News's Nancy Shute reports. They offer wisdom and up-to-date medical information that can be invaluable to families facing tough treatment choices. "Amateur" medical information isn't clinically tested or peer reviewed, so it shouldn't be considered a sole source, Shute writes, but it can serve as a guide to navigating the tsunami of information on Google and other search sites, as well as the recommendations that patients get from their doctors. Shute identifies 3 ways online patient groups can help, which include supplying additional information on alternative treatments. When different doctors give different advice on treatment, online parent groups may help weigh the options. Research on online patient groups finds that their greatest benefit lies in providing accurate information, rather than emotional support, Shute writes.
Here's how a website can help you answer the question How much should you pay for medical care?