Daily Archives: May 21, 2007

I am beyond outraged about this: Prednisone and autism.

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I am on Prednisone at the moment. I was looking up something about the side-effects of Prednisone, and somehow stumbled onto this long series of pages on Prednisone and autism. There are people actually trying to treat autism with Prednisone, trying to fund studies that will have lots of autistic children on Prednisone as well.

I understand that Prednisone has its uses. It is extremely useful for keeping me breathing at the moment during an asthma criss. My friend the Rettdevil is on it for adrenal failure inability to make cortisol. But asthma crises and adrenal failure and inability to make cortisol can kill you. In these situations, it is worth it to be on Prednisone, either short-term or long-term, even though it is a nasty, scary, and dangerous drug overall that has all kinds of effects that cause problems for people.

Okay, and despite the fact that I am in an asthma crisis at the moment, my doctors are still extremely concerned with keeping me on it for as short a time as possible. As short a time as possible is generally measured in weeks, unless something unforeseen happens. The website I just linked to is talking about keeping young autistic children on Prednisone for months at a time.

Prednisone is not something to be treated lightly. I hear a lot of people say “all drugs have side-effects”. This is true. Prednisone however has such drastic side-effects, because it’s a powerful steroid, that it really should be used to the minimum amount possible. The idea of giving it to autistic children for months at a time is reckless, dangerous, and foolhardy. I cannot believe people are doing this to autistic children, when there’s no way that Prednisone would even do anything for autistic children the way it does for asthmatics.

Prednisone suppresses the immune system leaving people highly vulnerable to infection, can trigger mania, insomnia, and hallucinations in people who are not even susceptible to them in the first place, can create total changes in personality and mood, an appetite that does not quit (and makes you feel like you’re starving even right after you eat), and in general messes with every system in the body it possibly can. It’s great for some purposes but I know almost nobody who likes being on it or thinks it’s a good drug to be on any more than absolutely necessary. Most people I know, who have taken Prednisone, if they know I’m on it, they sort of groan sympathetically. It’s not something people want to take and it’s not remotely safe.

And they are trying to test this in young autistic children. Because they can, apparently. I wish I knew some way to stop them.

Edited to add: Please don’t make this about “drugs” in general or “difficult decisions” or anything of the like. This is about Prednisone being described as something that can make autistic children talk. I really hope that if, say, someone started marketing chemotherapy at autistic children (who did not have cancer), there would be an outcry rather than various comments about how some parents choose to use “drugs” for their kids or something. Drugs are not a monolithic category and treating them as such confuses the issues rather than clarifies them.