Antipsychotic Drugs May Triple Children’s Diabetes Risk

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anti_psychotics_triple_child_diabetes_riskA new study suggests that antipsychotic medications such as Seroquel, Abilify and Risperdal can triple a child’s risk of developing Type 2 diabetes within the first year of use.

Medications traditionally used to treat schizophrenia, antipsychotics are now increasingly being prescribed for bipolar disorder, ADHD, and mood disorders such as depression, Reuters Health reports. But research just published in JAMA Psychiatry indicates that children using these medications are much more likely to develop Type 2 diabetes than those using medications typically prescribed for these other psychiatric conditions.

Wayne Ray, director of the division of pharmacoepidemiology at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, in Nashville, Tennessee, said children who received antipsychotic medications were three times as likely to develop Type 2 diabetes, according to Reuters Health. “It’s well known that antipsychotics cause diabetes in adults, but until now the question hadn’t been fully investigated in children.”

Ray and his colleagues reviewed records from the Tennessee Medicaid program for nearly 29,000 patients ages 6 to 24 who had recently started taking antipsychotic drugs for reasons other than schizophrenia or related psychoses. They compared those children to more than 14,000 matched control patients taking other types of psychiatric medications, including lithium; antidepressants; psychostimulants (Adderall, Ritalin); ADHD medications; and anti-anxiety drugs. Diabetes risk continued to rise with cumulative antipsychotic dose, and remained high for as long as a year after the children were taken off antipsychotics.

Dr. Ken Duckworth, medical director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, said these findings should lead doctors and parents to question the off-label use of antipsychotic drugs for conditions other than schizophrenia and psychosis. Ray agreed, saying that doctors should consider all other alternative treatments before resorting to antipsychotics, according to Reuters Health.

If children must be placed on antipsychotics, Ray said, doctors and parents need to carefully monitor them for early signs of diabetes including weight gain and glucose intolerance.