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Commentary: Randomized controlled trials in autism spectrum disorder: state of the field and challenges for the future.

J Child Psychol Psychiatry. 2018 Apr;59(4):457-459

Authors: Simonoff E

This issue of the Journal includes two articles summarizing the evidence from clinical trials aimed at improving symptoms of autism. French and Kennedy (Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 2018, xx, xxxx) systematically review randomized controlled trials (RCTs) aimed at an “early intervention” and focus on trials including children with or at risk of autism under age 6¬†years. Although no type of intervention were excluded from their review, none of the included 48 RCTs employed pharmacological modalities and the overwhelming majority tested psychological/behavioural interventions aimed at modifying aspects of observed behaviours that are abnormal in children with autism. Using the standard Cochrane tool for evaluating risk of bias, French and Kennedy conclude that many RCTs are of low quality, which throws into question the reliance that should be placed on the findings.

PMID: 29574736 [PubMed – in process]

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