THURSDAY, Oct. 22, 2009 (HealthDay News) -- Researchers report that infant rats given commonly prescribed drugs to treat mood disorders, pain and epilepsy develop behavioral problems in adulthood.
Earlier studies showed that brain cells in young rats die after they're given the drugs. The cells are in parts of the brain that control mood, cognition and movement.
The new research, which was scheduled to be presented this week at the Society for Neuroscience annual meeting in Chicago, aimed to determine if the drugs would also affect behavior.
The study authors found that the rats given the drugs as infants developed signs of autism and schizophrenia. Some drugs caused the problems even though they're not known to kill brain cells.
"That is of particular concern because some of the drugs may predispose to psychiatric disorders later in life," study author Patrick Forcelli, a graduate student at Georgetown University Medical Center, said in a school news release. "At the same time, our studies identify specific drugs that cause little or no long-term behavioral impairment."
Forcelli said future research will help doctors choose better drugs to treat disorders in babies and pregnant women.
Learn more about children and psychiatric drugs from the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry.