Use of Powerful Psychiatric Medications for Kids is Up - Thursday, January 07, 2010
Many doctors believe prescribing antipsychotic drugs to young children under age 5 can rarely be justified and that caution should be taken in giving strong medications such as these to children for whom other alternatives exist. However, new research from Columbia and Rutgers universities finds that the number of young children, ages 2-5, receiving these drugs roughly doubled between 2001 and 2007, and many of the children never were given alternative mental health services. The research looked at more than 1 million children with private insurance. However, the rates may be even higher for poorer children receiving public health coverage. Federal research released last month found that children of all ages on Medicaid were four times more likely than kids with private health coverage to be given powerful antipsychotic drugs. Both studies indicate doctors are prescribing strong psychiatric medications before trying safer, more established interventions.