A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of single-dose intravenous secretin as treatment for children with autism
OBJECTIVE: To determine whether a single injection of intravenous secretin results in measurable improvements in socialization and/or communication skills in children with autism. STUDY DESIGN: Sixty subjects with autism were randomly selected and assigned to either treatment or placebo group. Subjects in the treatment group received 2.0 clinical units of secretin per kilogram of body weight as a single intravenous dose. Subjects in the placebo group received normal saline solution. Neurodevelopmental and behavioral assessments were performed for all subjects before injection and at 3 and 6 weeks after injection. RESULTS: Assessment of language skills and parents' behavioral assessments revealed no significant differences between the treatment and placebo groups. Raters' assessments of severity of autistic symptoms did not differ for the 2 groups at 6 weeks after injection. A marginally statistically significant improvement in autistic behaviors was seen in the treatment group at 3 weeks after injection (P =.051). CONCLUSIONS: A single dose of intravenous secretin does not appear to have significant effects on either parents' perception of autistic behaviors or language skills at 6 weeks after injection. Transient, marginally significant improvements in autistic behaviors may occur in some children.