written by Michael O’Leary
The headlines about anti-psychotic drugs tripling the risk of type 2 diabetes is bad enough, but coupled with a seven-fold increase in the number of kids being prescribed these anti-psychotic drugs leaves one to wonder.
What are we doing to our kids?
From 1993 to 2009 the number of kids aged 0 to 20 prescribed anti-psychotic drugs jumped 700 percent, according to a 2012 study published in Arch Gen Psychiatry. By comparison, anti-psychotic drug prescriptions for adults increased 500 percent.
Now in a study published in the Aug. 21 journal JAMA Psychiatry the number of kids being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes was three times higher among kids on the anti-psychotic drugs compared to kids who were not on the drugs.
The anti-psychotic drugs included in the study are known by brand names Seroquel®, Abilify® and Risperdal® are approved to treat schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Also included were patients taking antidepressants and psychostimulants such as Adderall® and Ritalin® including alternative ADHD drugs clonidine, guanfacine, and benzodiazepines.
Among those studied, most of the antipsychotic drugs used (87 percent) were of the newer generation, drugs. Risperidone (Risperdal) accounted for 37 percent, while quetiapine (Seroquel) and olanzapine (Zyprexa), each composed 20 percent of those studied.
Researchers at Vanderbilt University (including Dr. Wayne Ray – pictured below) analyzed existing data from the Tennessee Medicaid program and included 28,858 children and youth who recently began taking antipsychotic drugs. They were compared to 14,429 similar children and youth who were not taking antipsychotic drugs. Children who had already been diagnosed with diabetes, schizophrenia, or some other condition for which anti-psychotics are the generally recognized therapy were excluded from the analysis.
They found that users of the antipsychotics had a 3-fold increased risk of type 2 diabetes, which showed up within the first year of taking the drugs. They also found that the risk increased with the cumulative dose, meaning the longer the children were given the anti-psychotics the higher the risk of type 2 diabetes.
When they looked just at older youth up to age 17 they found the anti-psychotic group had a 3.14-fold increased risk of type 2 diabetes, which was similar to the overall study.
The researchers noted that a limitation of the study is that it involved Medicaid patients, who are generally poor and that the incidence of type 2 diabetes may be elevated in this group due to economic, social and behavioral factors. It should be noted, however that 40 percent of Tennessee’s children are on Medicaid according to the authors.
The authors suggest that the study means physicians and parents should carefully consider the risk of type 2 diabetes as part of the discussion of risks and benefits of treating children with these anti-psychotic drugs.