More Preschoolers Receiving Psychiatric Medications
WebMD News Archive
"Rather than prescribing a medication, sometimes we need to consider the
child's perspective and consider stressors that could be causing problematic
behaviors," Martin Maldonado, MD, tells WebMD in an interview seeking
analysis of the study. These could include a move or a new sibling, which would
be highly stressful to a young child, says Maldonado, an infant and child
psychiatrist at Menninger Memorial Hospital in Topeka, Kan.
The trend toward prescribing more psychotropic medications may reflect a
change in children's mental health, John Dunne, MD, tells WebMD. "Neither
the study author nor the editorial author mentioned anecdotal evidence that
there is a rising prevalence of psychiatric disorders in very young
children," he says. "This trend may be causing physicians to prescribe
more psychotropic medication." Dunne is an associate clinical professor of
psychiatry at the University of Washington in Seattle, with a private practice
in Renton, Wash. He was not involved in the study.
The study was funded by a grant from the National Institute of Mental Health
and the George and Leila Mathers Charitable Foundation.
- Researchers report many more children are receiving medications for
psychiatric disorders. A study found that prescriptions for Ritalin and
antidepressants rose significantly from 1991 to 1995.
- The study's authors and observers alike note the rise in these types of
prescriptions could indicate both increased awareness of pediatric mental
disorders and a desire to cut costs in treating them.
- Physicians note that questions remain concerning the appropriateness and
safety of these medications in children. They stress that often, more than
medication is needed to treat these illnesses in young patients.