Background and Objectives.
Anecdotal reports on the efficacy of secretin in autism raised great hopes for the treatment of children with this disorder. Initial single-dose, randomized, controlled trials failed to demonstrate any therapeutic effects of secretin. The present study is the first to test the outcome of repeated doses and to examine whether there is a subgroup of children who are more likely to achieve positive effects.
Sixty-four children with autism (ages 2–7 years; 55 boys and 9 girls) with a range of intelligence quotient and verbal ability were randomly assigned, in a double-blind manner, to secretin or placebo groups. Children received 2 doses of placebo or porcine secretin, 6 weeks apart. Assessments were performed at baseline and 3 weeks after each injection using several outcome measures.
There were no group differences on formal measures of language, cognition, or autistic symptomatology. Subgroupings based on cognitive level, the presence or absence of diarrhea, or a history of regression failed to show any significant therapeutic effects of secretin.
No evidence is provided for the efficacy of repeated doses of porcine secretin in the treatment of children with autism. The possible relationship between relief of biological symptoms and enhanced skill performance is discussed.