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Sharp Rise in Antipsychotics Prescribed for Children, Teens

Supporting evidence limited only to short-term safety and efficacy

MONDAY, June 5 (HealthDay News) -- Office-based physicians have sharply increased prescription of antipsychotic medication for children and adolescents in recent years, according to a study published in the June issue of the Archives of General Psychiatry.

Mark Olfson, M.D., M.P.H., of Columbia University in New York City, and colleagues analyzed data on visits by patients aged 20 and younger to office-based physicians between 1993 and 2002 that resulted in a prescription for antipsychotic drugs. They also looked at clinical and demographic data from visits in 2000-2002 and compared data sets from visits that included and did not include treatment with antipsychotics.

In 1993 there were an estimated 201,000 visits that included antipsychotic treatment for a child or teenager, which rose to 1,224,000 by 2002. From 2000 to 2002, males far outnumbered females in terms of antipsychotic prescriptions: 1,913 visits per 100,000 population for males versus 739 per 100,000 for females. Use of antipsychotic medication was most prevalent among white non-Hispanic youth than other racial groups.

Antipsychotic treatment was prescribed in 9.2 percent of mental health visits and 18.3 percent of psychiatrists' visits. Second-generation medications were prescribed in 92.3 percent of cases, with disruptive behavior disorders accounting for 37.8 percent of cases. Mood disorders, mental retardation and psychotic disorders accounted for 31.8 percent, 17.3 percent and 14.2 percent of cases, respectively.

"There is a pressing need to increase and extend the experimental evaluation of these medications in children and adolescents," the authors conclude.

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