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Antipsychotic Drugs Could Increase Children’s Risk of Type 2 Diabetes

Update Date: Aug 22, 2013 11:36 AM EDT

Over the past few years, the safety of prescription drugs for children and teenagers have been a hot topic. Several studies have found that parents continue to let their children take their prescription drugs without any supervision, which increases the likelihood of drug abuse. These studies have also found that children with prescription drugs, whether they are painkillers or antipsychotic medications, partake in riskier behaviors, such as selling drugs or overdosing of their medications. In a new study, researchers found another risk factor of taking prescription drugs, specifically antipsychotics. The researchers reported that antipsychotic drugs might increase a child's risk of type 2 diabetes.

For this study, the research team from Vanderbilt University examined the effects of antipsychotic drugs with brand names such as Abilify, Seroquel, Risperdal and Zyprexa. The researchers reviewed the data of 28, 858 children who were prescribed these antipsychotics and compared the information to 14,429 children who were prescribed other drugs gathered from the Tennessee's Medicaid Program that followed them for 12-years. The participants were between the ages of six and 24. The data was collected from Jan. 1, 1996 to Dec. 31, 2007.

The researchers discovered that taking these specific brand name antipsychotics increased the risk of type 2 diabetes by three-folds. The researchers noted that the increased risk could be noticeable within the first year of taking the medications. The risk of type 2 diabetes continued even after the children and young adults stopped taking the drugs. The team discovered that these drugs lead to a weight gain of around 20 to 30 pounds. Weight gain has been constantly associated as a risk factor for type two diabetes. Type 2 diabetes is a chronic illness that can lead to severe health complications when left unchecked. Even though this chronic illness has often been dubbed adult-onset diabetes, recently more and more children are diagnosed with it, which could lead to health complications starting earlier.  

"My advice would be to be very cautious about starting an antipsychotic," Wayne A. Ray Ph.D., co-author of the study said according to USA Today. Ray a professor of preventative medicine at Vanderbilt. "If the child has one of these indications for one of these other medications, that means looking very carefully at alternative medication - perhaps trying them first...Then, perhaps at the end of the day it may be necessary to use an antipsychotic, but you at least will have tried the safer options."

The study was published in JAMA Psychiatry

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