Dec. 11, 2012 -- An inexpensive generic drug may ease autism in children, a small new study shows.
The drug, bumetanide, is a diuretic, or a drug that rids the body of extra water through urine. It’s been FDA-approved since 1983 to reduce fluid buildup in patients with heart failure, kidney disease, or liver disease.
In autism, bumetanide may help to correct a chemical imbalance in the brain, says Jing-Qiong Kang, MD, PhD, an assistant professor of neurology at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn. Kang studies the biology of autism, but she was not involved in the current research.
Unlike other medications, which are used to quell behavioral problems that are sometimes associated with autism, like hyperactivity, insomnia, and aggression, bumetanide seems to ease some of the core features of the condition, including problems connecting and interacting with other people.
“They were making more eye contact, more spontaneous speech, and more two-way conversation,” says Daniel Coury, MD, a pediatric psychiatrist in Columbus, Ohio, who is medical director for the Autism Speaks Autism Treatment Network.
There is no mention about what the 'chemical imbalance' may be, that the diuretic alters. I thought maybe sodium/potassium, but the article said potassium pills were given to those who became deficient.
It will be so interesting to find the answer to this mystery. There seems to be a lot of research going on; it will probably just be a matter of time before the biochemical mode of action (if not the actual cause) is determined.