Children in Foster Care and Psychotropic Drugs

By Sandra Distelhorst

VANCOUVER — May 8, 2010 — The prescribing of psychoactive medication, particularly atypical antipsychotics, for children and adolescents has steadily increased over the past decade, according to a study presented here at the 2010 Pediatric Academic Societies (PAS) Annual Meeting.

The actual frequency and types of psychoactive medications used is not well known, said Victoria Tutag-Lehr, PharmD, Clinical Pharmacology/Toxicology, Children’s Hospital of Michigan, Detroit, Michigan, on May 1.

The study used claims and encounter data from the MarketScan database to estimate the frequency and type of psychoactive and antipsychotic medication use, multiple medication use (polypharmacy), and comorbid mental health and non-mental health conditions. The retrospective analysis included children aged younger than 18 years on July 1, 2007, who were eligible for health insurance for all of 2007. Medication use was classified by prescriptions dispensed in 2007.

The researchers found data for 2.9 million children who met the criteria of continuous enrolment and reporting of pharmacy and mental health and substance abuse claims. Of these, 227,986 (7.9%) were given at least 1 prescription for a psychoactive medication and 21,549 (0.8%) were given least 1 prescription for an antipsychotic medication.

“The most surprising result was that nearly all [almost 99%] of the children and adolescents who received an antipsychotic received an atypical antipsychotic,” said Dr. Tutag-Lehr.

Children receiving antipsychotic medication were older (mean age 12.4 vs 11.5 years; P < .001) and male (66.7% vs 59.2%; P < .001) and used more psychoactive medications (2.6 vs 1.2; P < .001) compared with those receiving at least 1 prescription for any other psychoactive medication. The most frequent diagnoses associated with antipsychotic use were attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, bipolar disorder, and major depression. The leading non-mental health conditions in children receiving antipsychotics were chronic lung disease (7%) and neurological disorders (2%).

"The use of these second-generation antipsychotics is worrisome because these agents are associated with weight gain and type I diabetes," said Dr. Tutag-Lehr. "The developing hepatic and endocrine systems in young children may be particularly sensitive to adverse medication consequences," she continued.

The researchers concluded that atypical antipsychotics were frequently prescribed for children aged younger than 18 years.

"There are no long-term studies, so we don't know the long-term outcomes for these medications in this vulnerable population," said Dr. Tutag-Lehr.

[Presentation title: Antipsychotic Use Among Children and Adolescents in a Large Insured Population. Abstract 1490.356]

About yvonnemason

Background:  The eldest of five children, Yvonne was born May 17, 1951 in Atlanta, Georgia. Raised in East Point, Georgia, she moved to Jackson County, Ga. until 2006 then moved to Port St. Lucie, Florida where she currently makes her home.  Licensed bounty hunter for the state of Georgia. Education:  After a 34 year absence, returned to college in 2004. Graduated with honors in Criminal Justice with an Associate’s degree from Lanier Technical College in 2006. Awards:  Nominated for the prestigious GOAL award in 2005 which encompasses all of the technical colleges. This award is based not only on excellence in academics but also leadership, positive attitude and the willingness to excel in one’s major. Affiliations:  Beta Sigma Phi Sorority  Member of The Florida Writer’s Association – Group Leader for St Lucie County The Dream:  Since learning to write at the age of five, Yvonne has wanted to be an author. She wrote her first novel Stan’s Story beginning in 1974 and completed it in 2006. Publication seemed impossible as rejections grew to 10 years. Determined, she continued adding to the story until her dream came true in 2006. The Inspiration:  Yvonne’s brother Stan has been her inspiration and hero in every facet of her life. He was stricken with Encephalitis at the tender age of nine months. He has defied every roadblock placed in his way and has been the driving force in every one of her accomplishments. He is the one who taught her never to give up The Author: Yvonne is currently the author of several novels, including:  Stan’s Story- the true story of her brother’s accomplishments, it has been compared to the style of Capote, and is currently being rewritten with new information for re-release.  Tangled Minds - a riveting story about a young girl’s bad decision and how it taints everyone’s life around her yet still manages to show that hope is always possible. This novel has been compared to the writing of Steinbeck and is currently being written as a screenplay. This novel will be re-released by Kerlak Publishing in 2009  Brilliant Insanity – released by Kerlak Publishing October 2008  Silent Scream – Released by October 2008- Slated to be made into a movie Yvonne’s Philosophy in Life - “Pay it Forward”: “In this life we all have been helped by others to attain our dreams and goals. We cannot pay it back but what we can do is ‘pay it forward’. It is a simple
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One Response to Children in Foster Care and Psychotropic Drugs

  1. Pingback: Counseling Rehab - Exploring the Various Bipolar Disorders

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