Though it is the only drug approved to treat symptoms of autism in children, Risperdal is not a cure for autism, says Benedetto Vitiello, chief of the Child and Adolescent Treatment and Preventive Intervention Research Branch at the National Institute of Mental Health. Long-term side effects of Risperdal, including gynecomastia, may outweigh the temporary benefits such as reduced irritability.
Risperdal was originally approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 1993 as an antipsychotic medication, but was soon associated with side effects including excessive breast growth in male children and adolescents. As many as 25% of cases of gynecomastia breast growth in boys are linked to medications.
Studies have also found that an abnormally high number of foster children receive Risperdal for ADHD and other uses, despite not receiving a clinical diagnosis. Risperdal gynecomastia can last indefinitely and greatly affect self-esteem and mental well-being in children and adolescents.