Diuretic drug prevents autism in mice and rats.

Someone Somewhere

Rodent study supports controversial clinical trial showing beneficial effects in children with the disorder.

Children with autism typically begin showing obvious symptoms, such as trouble making eye contact and slow language development, a year or more after birth. A study in mice and rats now hints that prenatal drug treatment could head off  these problems.

The findings, reported today in Science1, do not suggest that autism spectrum disorders can be prevented in children. But researchers not involved in the study say that they add support to a controversial clinical trial suggesting that some children with autism benefited from taking a common diuretic medication called bumetanide2.

In that trial, a team led by neuroscientist Yehezkel Ben-Ari at the Mediterranean Institute of Neurobiology in Marseille gave 60 children bumetanide or a placebo daily for three months. Children who had less severe forms of autism showed mild improvements in…

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