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Number of children and teens treated with antipsychotics increases sharply

g the patients receiving these medications included disruptive behavior disorder (37.8 percent), mood disorders (31.8 percent), pervasive developmental disorders or mental retardation (17.3 percent) and psychotic disorders (14.2 percent). Male and white youth were most likely to receive such treatments.

The availability of new antipsychotics with fewer side effects in adults may have contributed to the increase. In addition, fewer inpatient care options are available for children with mental illnesses, requiring physicians to treat more seriously ill children in an outpatient setting. These severely ill patients are more likely to require powerful medications like antipsychotics. Although these medications may be safe and effective for some mental disorders in pediatric patients, further research is needed to confirm this and provide detailed information about benefits and risks, the authors write.

"In recent years, second-generation antipsychotic medications have become common in the office-based mental health treatment of young people," they conclude. "These medications are used to treat children and adolescents with different mental disorders. Results of clinical trials provide a limited base of support for the short-term safety and efficacy of some second-generation antipsychotic medications for psychosis and disruptive behavior disorders. In light of the widespread and growing use of these medications, there is a pressing need to increase and extend the experimental evaluation of these medications in children and adolescents."

(Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2006;63:679-685. Available pre-embargo to the media at www.jamamedia.org.)


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Contact: Craig LeMoult
212-305-0820
JAMA and Archives Journals
5-Jun-2006


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