Kids and Antipsychotics: Beware!

This warning appeared recently in Latitudes, the journal of the American Association for Comprehensive Neurotherapy but, although their warnings are aimed specifically at American parents, UK doctors are as likely to prescribe strong drugs as their American counterparts and families need to be aware of the dangers.

Use of antipsychotic medications for children has increased six-fold from 1993 to 2002, yet the drugs are not FDA-approved for this population. Antipsychotics are often used for schizophrenia, but are also prescribed for some cases of autism, rage disorder, Tourette’s syndrome, bipolar disorder, and other ‘off-label’ uses.

USA Today recently carried an article with disturbing information on the use of atypical antipsychotics. Outpatient prescriptions for children ages two to 18 jumped about fivefold - from just under half a million to about 2.5 million - from 1995 to 2002. At the same time, reports of deaths and dangerous side effects potentially linked to the drugs are increasing.

A USA Today analysis of Food and Drug Administration data shows at least 45 deaths of children from 2000 to 2004 where an ‘atypical’ was considered the ‘primary suspect’.

More than 1,300 cases reported bad side effects, including weight gain, hyperlipidemia (excess fatty substances in the blood), and diabetes as well as some that can be life threatening such as convulsions and a low white blood cell count. Adverse metabolic effects are suggested to be more severe in children and adolescents than in adults.

Examples of these drugs include: risperidone (Risperdal); olanzapine (Zyprexa); quetiapine (Seroquel); and aripiprazole (Abilify).

If your child has one of the disorders mentioned in the first paragraph, try to find out what biomedical imbalance is at the root of your child’s problem. Look for an integrative medical professional who can recommend a variety of treatments, from behavioral therapies to EEG biofeedback, nutrient therapy, and counseling. Antipsychotic medication should be a last resort.

First published in January 2007


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