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ADHD in Children Health Center

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Antipsychotic Drug Use Rising Among ADHD Kids

New Antipsychotic Drugs Not Proven Safe for Treatment of ADHD in Children

Antipsychotic Use Rising Among Children continued...

The study showed that the number of children who were prescribed antipsychotics for the first time nearly doubled from 23 per 10,000 in 1996 to 45 per 10,000 in 2001. More than 43% of the children who received the drugs were diagnosed as having ADHD or conduct disorder.

Researchers say there were also significant changes in how antipsychotics were used among children. For example, use of the drugs for the treatment ADHD and mood disorders increased by more than twofold during the study period, while use of the drugs for psychosis or Tourette syndrome remained relatively constant.

The greatest increase in antipsychotic use was among adolescents aged 13 to 18 with ADHD and conduct disorders. Prescriptions for antipsychotics among these users rose by more than threefold.

Researchers say the increased use of antipsychotics for the treatment of children and adolescents with affective or mood disorders (such as depression or anxiety) may be due in part to recent findings that show the drugs may be effective in treating adults in the manic phase of bipolar disorder.

Cooper says it may also be perceived that these drugs are safer for children and may help with in the treatment of aggressive disorders, but those studies still need to be done.

"We would like for physicians to think very carefully before prescribing these drugs to children," says Cooper. "And we hope this study encourages more research to find out how these drugs might be best used to help children."

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