Antiepileptic drugs: Affective use in autism spectrum disorders

Adriana Di Martino, Roberto F. Tuchman

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

67 Scopus citations


Antiepileptic drugs are widely administered to individuals with autistic spectrum disorders. There are several reasons for the use of antiepileptic drugs in autistic spectrum disorders, including the high incidence of epilepsy in these individuals, the anecdotal reports suggesting an improvement of communication and behavior in autistic subjects with epileptic discharges, and the increased awareness that some disruptive behaviors may be manifestations of an associated affective disorder. In this study, data on the current use of antiepileptic drugs in the treatment of autism, and on the association of affective disorders with epilepsy and autism, are reviewed. The evidence supporting the hypothesis that there may be a subgroup of autistic children with epilepsy and affective disorders that preferentially respond to antiepileptic drugs is still very preliminary, and further investigations with double-blind controlled studies are needed. Although the role of antiepileptic drugs at the present time is not established, there is evidence that autism, epilepsy, and affective disorders commonly co-occur, and that they may share a common neurochemical substrate, which is the common target of the psychotropic mechanism of action of different antiepileptic drugs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)199-207
Number of pages9
JournalPediatric Neurology
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2001

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Neurology
  • Developmental Neuroscience
  • Clinical Neurology


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