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Intravenous secretin for autism spectrum disorders (ASD)

Williams K, Wray JA, Wheeler DM
Published Online: 
18 April 2012

Secretin is a gastrointestinal hormone that was first presented as an effective treatment for ASD in 1998, based on anecdotal evidence. On the basis of these first reports many families sought treatment with intravenous secretin for their children with ASD even though secrein was not a proven, effective treatment and there was inadequate information about side effects when used in this group of children. This review included 16 randomised trials with a placebo control group, with over 900 children involved. The review found no evidence that single or multiple dose intravenous secretin is effective in improving the main problems seen in ASD, namely a lack of social interaction and communication and restrictive, repetitive behaviours and routines. As such, currently it should not be recommended or administered as a treatment for ASD. Further experimental assessment of secretin's effectiveness for ASD can only be justified if there is convincing new evidence that finds that secretin can influence brain function in a way that could benefit children with ASD or a link is proven between secretin and the known cause of ASD for some or all children.

This record should be cited as: 
Williams K, Wray JA, Wheeler DM. Intravenous secretin for autism spectrum disorders (ASD). Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2012, Issue 4. Art. No.: CD003495. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD003495.pub3
Assessed as up to date: 
20 July 2010