An article published in the journal Pediatrics claims that “publication bias,” or medical journals’ tendency to publish clinical trials with a positive result, may have given physicians the false impression that certain types of antidepressants improve repetitive behaviors in autistic children such as rocking and hand-flapping.
A report on the research in U.S. News and World Report says analysis of all the studies, not just the ones that made it into medical journals, indicate that selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) don’t actually help repetitive behaviors much at all.
Dr. Scott Denne, a professor of pediatrics at Indiana University School of Medicine, wrote an accompanying editorial in which he states that drug trials with a positive result are more likely to be published in peer-reviewed journals, where the results are widely read and disseminated to doctors.
“Positive studies are exciting and potentially groundbreaking,” Denne wrote. “Negative studies are not particularly exciting and at least in the estimation of both physicians and investigators, they don’t really change anything, even though that isn’t necessarily true.”
SSRIs – including Prozac® and Zoloft® — have already been a subject of controversy following numerous reports that link them to potentially dangerous birth defects in babies born to women who take the pills during their pregnancy.
See the article here: http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/early/2012/04/17/peds.2011-3285