Purpose: Children with autism spectrum disorder are at an increased risk for developing seizures, which can be triggered by classical antipsychotics. Aripiprazole is an atypical antipsychotic that has a safer drug profile. The objective is to present the experience with seizure control in autistic children who are placed on Aripiprazole.
Methods: Series of consecutive autistic children with comorbid epilepsy treated with Aripiprazole were identified prospectively over a 3-year period. Monthly follow up by one pediatric neurologist was performed to document seizure control.
Results: 56 autistic children with comorbid epilepsy were placed on Aripiprazole. Most children (59%) were seizure free for at least 6 months. The initial Aripiprazole dose was 5 mg in all patients. Follow up ranged between 5-8 months (mean 6.9). A total of 5 (9%) children developed seizure provocation (3/5) or worsening seizure control (2/5). There were 3 males and 2 females with ages ranging between 6-11.5 years (mean 8.5). Three of these children had a previous history of seizure worsening with other antipsychotic drugs (respiridone in 2 and haloperidol in 1). One child with seizure provocation developed status epilepticus 5 days after introducing Aripiprazole that required intensive care admission. The drug was stopped in all 5 children with no long-term effects.
Conclusion: Seizure provocation or worsening seizure control is not uncommon following the introduction of Aripiprazole in autistic children with controlled epilepsy. Although the risk is low, parents should be warned and advised on what to do, particularly in the first month of therapy.
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