Anti-psychotic drug use soars
The mood alterer's use to aid kids, adolescents rises more than fivefold in '93 to '02, study says.
Benedict Carey / New York Times
The use of potent anti-psychotic drugs to treat children and adolescents for problems such as aggression and mood swings increased more than fivefold from 1993 to 2002.
Researchers who analyzed data from a national survey of doctors' office visits and found that anti-psychotic medications were prescribed to 1,438 per 100,000 children and adolescents in 2002, up from 275 per 100,000 in the two-year period from 1993-95.
The findings augment earlier studies that have documented a sharp rise over the past decade in the prescription of psychiatric drugs for children, including anti-psychotics, stimulants like Ritalin and anti-depressants, whose sales have slipped only recently. But the study is the most comprehensive to examine the increase in prescriptions for anti-psychotics.
The explosion in the use of drugs, some experts said, can be traced in part to the growing number of children and adolescents whose problems are given psychiatric labels once reserved for adults and to doctors' increasing comfort with a newer generation of drugs for psychosis. Shrinking access to long-term psychotherapy and hospital care may also play a role, the experts said.
The findings, published in Archives of General Psychiatry, are likely to inflame a debate about the risks of using psychiatric medication in children.
In recent years, Anti-depressants have been linked to an increase in suicidal thinking or behavior in some minors, and reports have suggested that stimulant drugs like Ritalin may exacerbate underlying heart problems