Objective: The purpose of this study was to investigate the therapeutic effects of combined bumetanide and applied behavior analysis (ABA) treatment in children with autism.
Methods: Sixty children diagnosed with autism according to the International Classification of Diseases, Tenth Revision (ICD-10) criteria (mean age of 4.5 years) were randomly divided into two groups: A single treatment group (n=28) and a combined treatment group (n=32). The combined treatment group received ABA training combined with oral bumetanide (0.5 mg twice a day). The single treatment group received ABA training only. Autism symptoms were evaluated with the Autism Behavior Checklist (ABC) and the Childhood Autism Rating Scale (CARS), whereas severity of disease (SI) and global improvement (GI) were measured with the Clinical Global Impressions (CGI). Assessment of ABC, CARS, and CGI was performed immediately before and 3 months after initiation of the treatment(s).
Results: Prior to intervention(s) no statistically significant differences in scores on the ABC, CARS, SI, or GI were found between the two groups. Total scores of the ABC, CARS, and SI were decreased in both groups after 3 months (p<0.05) compared with the scores prior to treatment. The total scores of the ABC and the CGI were significantly (p<0.05) lower in the combined treatment group than in the single treatment group. Although the total and item scores of the CARS in the combined treatment group were lower than in the single treatment group after a 3 month intervention, they did not reach statistical significance. No adverse effects of bumetanide were observed.
Conclusions: Treatment with bumetanide combined with ABA training may result in a better outcome in children with autism than ABA training alone.