Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started
My Medicine

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Children's Health

Font Size

Kids' Prescription Drug Trends: What's Up, Down

Antibiotic Prescriptions Down; ADHD Drugs Up
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Laura J. Martin, MD

June 18, 2012 -- Children and teens got fewer prescriptions in 2010 than they did in 2002 -- but what they got changed.

Overall, the number of prescriptions dispensed for children and teens was down 7% during that time, according to the new study, published in Pediatrics.

When the researchers, from the U.S. Public Health Service, looked at individual drugs, however, they found some big increases.

Contraceptive prescriptions rose 93%. Prescriptions for ADHD drugs were up 46%.

Explaining the numbers is not part of the study. "This study was done to assess the wide variety of prescription drugs that are prescribed to U.S. children," says Sandy Walsh, an FDA spokeswoman. "The data we used do not allow us to understand the reasons behind these trends."

For that, WebMD turned to two independent experts.

Prescriptions for Children: A Closer Look

The researchers got the prescription information from two large commercial databases of drugs. All were dispensed from outpatient retail pharmacies.

The report doesn't include information on prescriptions given to children in the hospital. It doesn't include mail-order prescriptions.

The information is on drugs dispensed. There is no way to know if patients actually took them.

Among the prescriptions that declined in 2010 compared to 2002, and by how much:

The researcher found increases in other drug prescriptions. Besides the 93% increase in contraceptive prescriptions, and the 46% in ADHD drugs, they found that asthma drug prescriptions rose 14%.

Prescriptions for Children, By Age

For infants and children, newborn to 11, the antibiotic amoxicillin (Amoxicot, Amoxil, others) was the top prescribed medication. That was found even though antibiotic prescriptions declined overall. It's used to treat bacterial infections such as those of the ears, nose, and throat.

For children and teens 12 to 17, methylphenidate (Ritalin, Methylin, Metadate, Concerta) was the most common prescription dispensed. It is used to treat ADHD.

The researchers found much off-label use of the drug Prevacid (lansoprazole) in infants under one year. The drug is approved to treat GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease). Stomach contents leak backward, causing irritation.

Today on WebMD

child with red rash on cheeks
What’s that rash?
plate of fruit and veggies
How healthy is your child’s diet?
smiling baby
Treating diarrhea, fever and more.
Middle school band practice
Understanding your child’s changing body.

worried kid
jennifer aniston
Measles virus
sick child

Child with adhd
rl with friends
Syringes and graph illustration