Prevalence and patterns of medication use in children and adolescents with autism spectrum disorders in the Western Cape, South Africa
AbstractObjective: This study was conducted to investigate the prevalence and patterns of medication use amongst a sample of school going children and adolescents with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) in the Western Cape, South Africa.
Method: This was a descriptive, quantitative, analytic study. A survey questionnaire and the Nisonger Child Behaviour Rating Form (NCBRF) were administered to parents of children and adolescents recruited from two schools for children with ASD in Cape Town and from the Autism Action database.
Results: A total of 24.6% of the 65 children used psychotropic medications. Antipsychotics were the most common reportedly used psychotropics followed by stimulants, antidepressants and mood stabilisers. Complementary and alternative medications were also commonly used with 40% of children using over the counter medications (OTC) and 15.4% being on a special diet for autism. Children of black African or coloured ethnicity were less likely to use OTC medication than children in the white/Asian ethnic group.
Conclusions: In keeping with international studies this sample of children with ASD was a highly medicated group. The findings of this pilot study were limited by the response rates and sample size, but provide valuable insight into medication use in the South African ASD population.
Journal of Child and Adolescent Mental Health 2013, 25(1): 69–79