January 4, 2010
The rate of children aged 2 to 5 who are given antipsychotic medications has doubled in recent years, a new study has found.
Yet little is known about either the effectiveness or the safety of these powerful psychiatric medications in children this age, said researchers from Columbia University and Rutgers University, who looked at data on more than 1 million children with private health insurance.
“It is a worrisome trend, partly because very little is known about the short-term, let alone the long-term, safety of these drugs in this age group,” said study author Dr. Mark Olfson, a professor of clinical psychiatry at Columbia University in New York City.
Prescribing antipsychotics to children in the upper range of that age span — ages 4 and 5 — is justifiable only in rare, intractable situations in which all other treatments, including family and psychological therapy, have been tried and are not working, Olfson said.
And it’s questionable whether 2- and 3-year-olds should ever be prescribed antipsychotics, Olfson said.
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