Antipsychotics may increase diabetes risk in some children

Researchers say prescribing practices need to include thoughtful risk/benefit consideration.


Dr David Rubin, co-director of PolicyLab, The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP)

Researchers from The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia's (CHOP) PolicyLab published the largest study to date documenting the significant risks to children's health associated with prescription antipsychotics, a powerful class of medications used to treat mental and behavioral health disorders.

The results suggest that initiating antipsychotics may elevate a child's risk not only for significant weight gain, but also for type II diabetes by nearly 50 percent; moreover, among children who are also receiving antidepressants, the risk may double.

Previous PolicyLab research showed that one in three youth receiving antidepressants in the Medicaid program were receiving an antipsychotic at the same time.

Traditionally, antipsychotics have been narrowly prescribed to children with a diagnosis of schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, or to those with significant developmental delays who were displaying aggressive behaviors that were potentially injurious to themselves or others.

However, in recent years, these medications are increasingly being prescribed in the absence of strong supporting safety and efficacy data to treat healthier children and adolescents with disruptive behaviors, such as those who are diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).


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