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Study: Antibiotic could lessen effects of fragile X syndrome

Fragile X syndrome is the most common known cause of inherited intellectual disability. It is a genetic disorder primarily affects boys and results in a spectrum of intellectual disabilities, including autism and mental retardation. Fragile X syndrome can affect physical features, intellectual development, behavior as well as social skills.

At this point, there is no drug that has proven effective at treating fragile X syndrome; however, a new study suggests that a readily available antibiotic may bring about improvements in those with the intellectual disorder.

The study, which was published this week in the Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics, found that children with fragile X syndrome who took the drug minocycline showed "modest" but notable improvements in behavior and anxiety. It is being considered a significant discovery, especially since the medication is currently available by prescription.

The small study involved 66 children between the ages of 3 and 16 with fragile X. The children were divided into two groups; one group was given the drug minocycline while the other was given a placebo. Parents of the children who took the drug said their children exhibited less anxiety and mood-related behaviors while taking the antibiotic.

Assessments from the children's doctors also reported general improvement. But the study did find that some children responded better to the drug, which is intended to treat acne, than others. Researchers will not be working on ways to determine which children with fragile X syndrome will benefit most from the treatments.

This could be very positive news for parents of children with fragile X syndrome, a disorder that can stay with a person for a lifetime. At this point, other treatments for fragile X have included various forms of therapy and individual educational and behavioral programs.

Source: Disability Scoop, "Antibiotic May Improve Behavior, Anxiety, Study Finds," Shaun Heasley, April 10, 2013

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