Significant risks to children’s health, such as an increased risk of type 2 diabetes, have been associated with prescription antipsychotics.
What are prescription antipsychotics?
Prescription antipsychotics are a powerful medication class used to treat behavioral and mental health disorders. They are used to treat children diagnosed with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.
Researchers aimed to determine whether the initiation of second-generation antipsychotics could increase the risk of type 2 diabetes.
David M. Rubi, MD, MSCE, of The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and colleagues assessed 1.3 million children aged 10-18 between 2003 and 2007.
25 per cent of children who were diagnosed with a behavioural problem were prescribed antipsychotics. This group’s increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes rose to one in 260, compared to one in 400 among those not taking antipsychotics.
This risk was also found to increase among children using antidepressants alongside antipsychotics, while the risk of weight gain was also observed to be significantly enhanced through the initiation of antipsychotics.
The research team believe treatment strategies for challenging behaviour should be reviewed, with Rubin reporting: “Once a child is on the antipsychotic drug, a plan should be agreed upon and periodically revisited to see whether or not an evidence-based counselling service, such as trauma-focused cognitive therapy, could address underlying emotional trauma, which is often the root cause for the behaviour.”
However, Rubin also advised that his team’s findings should be met with caution. “Although these findings should certainly give us pause, we should not reflexively overreact to them. Rather, we need to incorporate these new revelations about the risk for diabetes into a more thoughtful consideration of the true risks and benefits of prescribing an antipsychotic to a child,” Rubin added.

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