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The effect of stimulants on irritability in autism comorbid with ADHD: a systematic review

Authors Ghanizadeh A, Molla M, Olango GJ

Received 9 November 2018

Accepted for publication 15 March 2019

Published 6 June 2019 Volume 2019:15 Pages 1547—1555

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/NDT.S194022

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewers approved by Dr Colin Mak

Peer reviewer comments 4

Editor who approved publication: Dr Roger Pinder


Ahmad Ghanizadeh,1,2 Mohammed Molla,2 Garth Jon Olango2

1Research Center for Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Department of Psychiatry, Shiraz University of Medical Sciences, Shiraz, Iran; 2Department of Psychiatry, UCLA-Kern Psychiatry Residency Program, Kern Medical, Kern Behavioral Health and Recovery Services, Bakersfield, CA, USA

Introduction: While there is a very high rate of comorbidity of autism and ADHD, there are controversies about prescribing stimulants in children with autism. This is a systematic review about the effect of stimulants on irritability in children with both autism and ADHD.
Methods: A systematic review was conducted to study the possible effect of stimulants on irritability in autism and ADHD using the databases of PubMed, Scopus, EMBASE, and ScienceDirect in September 2018. Eligible clinical trials of stimulants in the treatment of Autism and ADHD without restriction of language were included. The primary outcome was irritability score. The full texts of relevant articles were studied, and their references were scanned for any possible related article.
Results: Out of 1,315 citations, there were 26 relevant articles. Of the relevant articles, 16 were not interventional studies and were excluded. There were 10 interventional studies. None of them considered irritability as a main outcome. Also, none of them studied the effect of stimulants on irritability in autism plus ADHD. Current uncontrolled evidence about the association of stimulants with irritability is controversial.
Conclusion: The current evidence is not enough to support or discourage the effect of stimulants on irritability in children and adolescents with both autism and ADHD. Well-designed controlled clinical trials need to be conducted for this ignored research area.

Keywords: autistic disorder, attention deficit disorder with hyperactivity, central nervous system stimulants, irritable mood, comorbidity, methylphenidate


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