Yale University School of Nursing and Yale Child Study Center Professor Lawrence Scahill, MSN, PhD, is principal investigator for a multi-site trial of the drug guanfacine. The study received $1.7 million from the National Institutes of Health for a study at four sites around the country, including Yale University, Indiana University, Seattle Children's Research Institute, and UCLA.
The 8-week trial will follow 170 children, ages 5-13 years, with pervasive developmental disorders (PDD) such as autism and Asperger's.
The randomized double-blind, placebo-controlled trial will test the effects of guanfacine on hyperactivity in children with PDD. Recent data indicate that as many as 50% of children with PDD have moderate to severe problems of hyperactivity and impulsiveness. The impact of these symptoms may be profound and make the child less able to make use of educational and behavioral interventions.
"Consensus is lacking on how to treat children with PDD accompanied by hyperactivity," said Scahill. "Guanfacine is commonly used in this population, but poorly studied. Our pilot data indicate that guanfacine is a promising treatment for hyperactivity in children with PDD."
The study will also explore adverse effects and genetic variants in moderating response to the medication.