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New Clinical Trial In Children With Autism Begins Enrollment

PITTSBURGH, August 3, 2005 — UPMC’s Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic (WPIC) is seeking participants for a research study to evaluate an investigational medication for treatment of persistent gastrointestinal (GI) dysfunction in autistic children. WPIC is one of 12 sites nationwide participating in this study.

Up to 50 percent of children with autism experience persistent GI problems, ranging from mild to moderate degrees of inflammation in both the upper and lower intestinal tract. This study will attempt to determine the impact of GI function through treatment as well as assess the effect of GI symptoms on physical and emotional behavior.

“With autism growing at a rate of 10 to 17 percent per year, we recognize the need to address issues directly affecting these patients,” said Benjamin L. Handen, Ph.D., principal investigator of the study and professor of psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. “With such a large percentage of children with autism regularly experiencing GI problems, it is important to learn the cause of these problems and investigate the appropriate treatments.”

To be considered for participation in the study, a child must be between 2 and 17 years of age, be diagnosed with autism and experience some of the following symptoms: chronic diarrhea or constipation, bloating, gas and abdominal pain. Research volunteers will receive study medication and medical care at no cost to the family.

Autism is estimated to affect one in 250 births, or 1.5 million Americans, according to the Autism Society of America.

To find out more about the study, please contact Gretchen Wolf at 412-235-5445.

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