Magazine article Clinical Psychiatry News

Kids' Psychotropic Use Approaching Adult Levels. (Steady Rise over a Decade)

Magazine article Clinical Psychiatry News

Kids' Psychotropic Use Approaching Adult Levels. (Steady Rise over a Decade)

Article excerpt

Children were two to three times as likely to be taking psychotropic medication in 1996 as they were a decade earlier, and those utilization rates were approaching those of adults, according to a 10-year prospective study.

Julie Magno Zito, Ph.D., of the University of Maryland, Baltimore, and her colleagues found that children on Medicaid were more likely to be on psychotropic drugs than those covered by a health maintenance organization (HMO). The study also found that increases were especially marked for antidepressants, anticonvulsants, [alpha]-agonists, and stimulants (Arch. Pediatr. Adolesc. Med. 157[1]:17-25, 2003).

In an editorial accompanying the article, Dr. Michael S. Jellinek of the department of psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, said physicians must question whether they are prescribing the right kinds of psychotropic drugs to children, and with the proper treatment plans.

The data in Dr. Zito's study, he said, "are a reflection, an imperfect mirror, of the scientific, clinical, financial, and systems changes that affected the care of children between 1987 and 1996 and continue to be a substantial influence" (Arch. Pediatr. Adolesc. Med. 157[1]: 14-16, 2003).

Dr. Jellinek speculated that increased treatment of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, the availability of longer-lasting stimulants, and a better understanding of how to use psychotropic drugs to treat depression, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorders in adolescents had a positive effect at least on some of the increases. But Dr. Jellinek said some of the other trends remain troubling. …

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