Treatment Effects of Stimulant Medication in Young Boys With Fragile X Syndrome

Jane E. Roberts, University of South Carolina - Columbia
Margot Miranda
Maria Boccia
Heather Janes
Bridgette L. Tonnsen
Debroah D, Hatton

©Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011


Fragile X syndrome (FXS) is the most common inherited form of intellectual disability and is caused by a CGG repeat expansion at Xq27.3 on the FMR1 gene. The majority of young boys with FXS display poor attention and hyperactivity that is disproportionate to their cognitive disability, and approximately 70% meet diagnostic criteria for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Psychopharmacology is employed with 82% of young males 5–17 years of age, with stimulant medication as the most common medication prescribed. This study evaluated the effects of stimulant medication on the academic performance, attention, motor activity, and psychophysiological arousal of boys with FXS, as well as the concordance of effects within individuals. Participants in this study included 12 boys with FXS who were treated with stimulants. Participants completed videotaped academic testing on two consecutive days and were randomly assigned to be off stimulants for 1 day and on stimulants the other day. On each day, multiple measures including academic performance, behavior regulation, and psychophysiological arousal were collected. Approximately 75% of participants performed better on attention and academic measures, and 70% showed improved physiological regulation while on stimulant medication. A high degree of concordance among measures was found. Lower intelligence quotient (IQ), but not age, correlated with greater improvements in in-seat behavior. IQ and age did not relate to on-task behaviors. The frequency and magnitude of response to stimulant medication in boys with FXS is higher than those reported for most children with non-specific intellectual disabilities and autism spectrum disorder.