No Apparent Cardiac Conduction Effects of Acute Treatment with Risperidone in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder

Lan Chi Vo, Christopher Snyder, Courtney McCracken, Christopher J. McDougle, James T. McCracken, Michael G. Aman, Elaine Tierney, L. Eugene Arnold, Daniel Levi, Michael Kelleman, Deirdre Carroll, John Morrissey, Benedetto Vitiello, Lawrence Scahill

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Objectives: Risperidone is approved for the treatment of serious behavioral problems in children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). This study examined the effects of risperidone on cardiac conduction in children with ASD. Methods: Data were collected from an 8-week, five-site trial conducted by the Research Units on Pediatric Psychopharmacology Autism Network. Children (age 5-17 years) were randomly assigned to risperidone (n = 49) or placebo (n = 52) under double-blind conditions. Risperidone was superior to placebo in reducing serious behavioral problems. A standard 12-lead, electrocardiogram (ECG) was obtained in most subjects at screening and week 8. A pediatric electrophysiologist blind to treatment assignment reviewed all available ECGs for readability, abnormalities, and cardiac conduction parameters, including QTc. The electrophysiologist measurements were compared to machine readings. A second blinded electrophysiologist examined all available ECGs for abnormalities and a 20% random sample for QTc. Results: Of the 101 randomized subjects in the trial, complete pretreatment and week 8 data were available on 65 subjects (placebo n = 30; risperidone n = 35). The electrophysiologist did not identify any cardiac conduction adverse effects of risperidone and there was no difference in mean change on the QTc compared to placebo. The Bland-Altman plot showed a systematic bias in QTc measurements by the electrophysiologist and machine. Machine readings produced higher values than the electrophysiologist for shorter QTc intervals and machine scoring was lower than electrophysiologist readings for longer QTc values (p = 0.001). Two electrophysiologists had overall percent agreements of 82.9% (95% CI: 76.3 to 89.6) on qualitative assessment and 88.6% (95% CI: 79.3 to 98.0) on QTc interval. Conclusion: Using conventional doses during acute treatment in children with ASD and serious behavioral problems, there was no difference in the mean change in QTc between risperidone and placebo. Compared to the electrophysiologist, the machine readings may miss elevated QTc measurements.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)900-908
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of child and adolescent psychopharmacology
Issue number10
StatePublished - Dec 1 2016


  • QTc
  • autism spectrum disorder
  • cardiac conduction
  • electrocardiogram
  • risperidone

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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