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Fluvoxamine and Sertraline in Childhood Autism - Does SSRI Therapy Improve Behaviour and/or Mood?

This study has been completed.
Information provided by:
The Hospital for Sick Children Identifier:
First received: April 4, 2008
Last updated: NA
Last verified: April 2008
History: No changes posted
The purpose of this study is to determine if fluvoxamine or sertraline reduce the fequency or severity of aggressive behaviour, obsessive symptoms, or anxiety in young children with autism. The within-patient variability in this patient population using standard neuropsychological instruments will also be determined and a predictor model for SSRI responsitivity based on baseline neuropsychological testing will be developed.

Condition Intervention Phase
Drug: fluvoxamine
Drug: sertraline
Drug: Placebo
Phase 3

Study Type: Interventional
Study Design: Allocation: Randomized
Intervention Model: Parallel Assignment
Masking: Double Blind (Participant, Care Provider, Investigator)
Primary Purpose: Treatment
Official Title: A Double-Blind Placebo-Controlled Randomized Clinical Trial of Fluvoxamine and Sertraline in Childhood Autism - Does SSRI Therapy Improve Behaviour and/or Mood?

Resource links provided by NLM:

Further study details as provided by The Hospital for Sick Children:

Primary Outcome Measures:
  • The severity of the autistic child's behaviour or condition (assessed by parents) [ Time Frame: At baseline and weekly thereafter until the study is completed ]

Secondary Outcome Measures:
  • Weight and vital signs [ Time Frame: Weeks 1, 7 and 11 ]
  • Blood count and liver function studies [ Time Frame: Weeks 1 and 11 ]

Enrollment: 108
Study Start Date: June 1999
Study Completion Date: January 2007
Primary Completion Date: September 2006 (Final data collection date for primary outcome measure)
Arms Assigned Interventions
Placebo Comparator: 1 Drug: Placebo
Patients in this study arm will receive capsules that appear identical to those of the two study drugs but will contain no active ingredient.
Experimental: 2 Drug: fluvoxamine
Children will be started on 12.5 mg. If there is no therapeutic effectivenss observed after eight weeks, then the child may have their dose increased. In this case, the child will be followed for an additional eight weeks.
Experimental: 3 Drug: sertraline
Children will be started on 12.5 mg. If there is no therapeutic effectivenss observed after eight weeks, then the child may have their dose increased. In this case, the child will be followed for an additional eight weeks.

Detailed Description:

Autism is a neuropsychiatric disorder diagnosed in early childhood. Approximately 10 Canadian children per 10 000 live births suffer from the disorder, which is three to four times more common in males than in females. It is characterized by social and and communicative deficits and restricted, repetitive interests and behaviours. Most autistic children are delayed in the acquisition of both verbal and non-verbal communication skills and many never develop useful language. Three-quarters of autistic children have mild to severe mental retardation and a quarter develop seizures during later childhood or adolescence. Its etiology is heterogenous and there is no cure. Although behaviour therapy is an important tool in management, pharmacotherapy remains a necessity for many children. Current therapy is limited to antipsychotic drugs that can carry an unacceptable risk of chronic neurotoxicity (tardive dyskinesia) or tricyclic antidepressants that have undesireble cardiovascular effects. This study proposes to evaluate the potential benefit of selective seratonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) in autism.

All autistic children whose symptoms are not currently well controlled will be offered entry into the trial. Each child will randomized to eight weeks of fluvooxamine, sertraline, or placebo. If they do not improve on their initial dose, they may have a dose increase and continue in the study for a further eight weeks. Due to the significant amount of within- and between- patient variability, multiple baseline evaluations will be completed prior to the initiation of drug therapy. Parents may choose to continue therapy that was effective for their child; if their child was randomized to placebo, parents may choose to try an SSRI for a period of 8 weeks to assess effectiveness.


Ages Eligible for Study:   3 Years to 10 Years   (Child)
Sexes Eligible for Study:   All
Accepts Healthy Volunteers:   No

Inclusion Criteria:

  • diagnosis of autism based on Autism Dignostic Interview -Revised and/or Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule, depending on which is appropriate for the child's chronological age
  • ages 3-10 inclusive
  • free of psychoactive medication for at least 3 months prior to entry into the trial

Exclusion Criteria:

  • known contra-indications to SSRIs (i.e. hepatic dysfunction)
  • Lactose intolerance
  • concurrent psychotropic medications (SSRIs can interact with lithium, tricyclic antidepressants, monoamine oxidase inhibitors, and benzodiazepines)
  • taking warfarin (SSRIs can increase levels)
  • Inability of parents to give informed consent, travel to the clinic visits, administer study medication, or arrange for completion of rating scales by self/school staff
  Contacts and Locations
Choosing to participate in a study is an important personal decision. Talk with your doctor and family members or friends about deciding to join a study. To learn more about this study, you or your doctor may contact the study research staff using the Contacts provided below. For general information, see Learn About Clinical Studies.

Please refer to this study by its identifier: NCT00655174

Canada, Ontario
The Hospital for Sick Children
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Sponsors and Collaborators
The Hospital for Sick Children
Principal Investigator: Sunita Vohra, MD Stollery Children's Hospital
  More Information

Responsible Party: Wendy Roberts/Principal Investigator, The Hospital for Sick Children Identifier: NCT00655174     History of Changes
Other Study ID Numbers: 0019990290
Study First Received: April 4, 2008
Last Updated: April 4, 2008

Keywords provided by The Hospital for Sick Children:
selective seratonin reuptake inhibitors

Additional relevant MeSH terms:
Autistic Disorder
Child Development Disorders, Pervasive
Neurodevelopmental Disorders
Mental Disorders
Antidepressive Agents
Psychotropic Drugs
Serotonin Uptake Inhibitors
Neurotransmitter Uptake Inhibitors
Membrane Transport Modulators
Molecular Mechanisms of Pharmacological Action
Neurotransmitter Agents
Serotonin Agents
Physiological Effects of Drugs
Anti-Anxiety Agents
Tranquilizing Agents
Central Nervous System Depressants
Antidepressive Agents, Second-Generation
Cytochrome P-450 CYP1A2 Inhibitors
Cytochrome P-450 Enzyme Inhibitors
Enzyme Inhibitors
Cytochrome P-450 CYP2C19 Inhibitors processed this record on April 24, 2017