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Medical News & Perspectives |

Studies Shed Light on Risks and Trends in Pediatric Antipsychotic Prescribing

Bridget M. Kuehn
JAMA. 2010;303(19):1901-1903. doi:10.1001/jama.2010.596.
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Studies continue to document worrisome trends in pediatric antipsychotic prescribing, as evidence builds about the risks of substantial weight gain and emergent metabolic problems in children and adolescents who take these drugs. Moreover, the studies suggest physicians may be missing opportunities to minimize the drugs' risks.

Until recently, only two atypical antipsychotic drugs were approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use in children and adolescents. Risperidone was approved for use in patients aged 13 to 17 years with schizophrenia, patients aged 10 to 17 years for manic or mixed episodes associated with bipolar disorder, and patients aged 5 to 16 years for irritability associated with autism. Aripiprazole was approved to treat schizophrenia in individuals aged 13 to 17 years, and for use alone or as an adjunct to lithium or valproate in individuals aged 10 to 17 years with bipolar mania.

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Physicians must carefully weigh both the benefits of using antipsychotic drugs to treat children with serious psychiatric disorders and the serious metabolic risks associated with the drugs.

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