A recent study demonstrates that the use of antipsychotics in children has increased from about 8.6 out of every 1,000 children in the mid-1990’s to almost 40 out of 1,000. Antipsychotics include drugs such as Zyprexa and Risperdal, which generally cost several dollars per pill. These drugs are heavily marketed by the drug companies. Increasingly, children are being prescribed antipsychotic drugs, often for non-psychotic conditions such as attention deficit disorder or behavior problems. In children these drugs are often used to calm down disruptive behavior. However, the increase in prescriptions for children is occurring despite the fact that many of the drugs haven’t been studied for their effectiveness or safety in children. General safety studies of the newer antipsychotics, like Risperdal and Zyprexa, show that, in adults, they can have serious side effects including diabetes, elevated cholesterol and weight gain. More studies are needed to determine antipsychotics’ safety and efficacy in children.
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