A pill used to treat fluid build-up shows great promise in treating autism symptoms in children.
A study published this month in the journal Translational Psychiatry has found that bumetanide, a drug used to treat swelling and heart failure, could improve the treatment of symptoms of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in children.
ASD is a condition that causes neurological and developmental delays.
The condition is typically identified through poor social communication and results in difficulty with nonverbal communication and emotional sharing.
According to News Medical, this is the first time that any drug has been shown to improve ASD symptoms and promote social integration during the development of a child’s brain.
The “water pill” has been used for nearly four decades to treat edema, which is the build-up of fluid in the body.
The research found that in autistic children the drug helps nerve cells communicate by correcting an imbalance between the brain’s chemical messengers, the Daily Mail reports.
Dr Fei Li, a lead author of the study, says the medication has shown no significant side effects and is relatively cost-effective.
“I have many children with autism spectrum disorder under my care,” Dr Fei said.
“But as psychological treatment resources are not available in many places, we are unable to offer them treatment. An effective and safe treatment will be very good news for them.
“In future we hope to be able to ensure all families, regardless of where they are living, can receive treatment for their child.”
According to The Star Academy, 1 in 59 children may have ASD with boys being four times more likely to be diagnosed than girls.
Current treatments for children with ASD are mainly behavioural interventions using play and joint activities between parents and children to improve language, social and cognitive skills.