By Dr. Mallika Marshall

BOSTON (CBS) — A drug that has been used to treat heart failure for decades may improve behavioral symptoms in some young children with autism. Bumetanide is a diuretic, which is used to treat the buildup of fluid in the body.

Researchers in China and at the University of Cambridge looked at 83 kids between three and six years old and found that, three months later, the children treated with the diuretic scored better on a behavior scale which measures emotional response as well as verbal and non-verbal communication.

They believe the drug helps nerve cells communicate more effectively by reducing the level of a brain chemical called GABA.

Larger studies will need to be conducted before it can be recommended for kids on the autism spectrum.

Dr. Mallika Marshall

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