….but powerful antipsychotics are fine
While it’s ‘dangerous’ for children to take natural cold remedies that contain Echinacea, it’s apparently safe to give a three-year-old a powerful antipsychotic drug. Doctors certainly think so, and are ignoring all the health warnings to hand out more and more prescriptions to small children.
In fact, the ‘off-label prescribing’ of antipsychotics to children is increasing by around 60 per cent a year. In the US alone, more than 350,000 children and adolescents are now regularly taking an antipsychotic.
Although the drugs are supposed to be used to treat schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, most of the prescriptions were written for children with an ADHD (attention-deficit, hyperactive disorder) diagnosis.
Researchers from the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, who researched the dramatic increase in antipsychotic prescribing, are concerned that the drugs may cause more harm than good. They can cause serious metabolic side effects in children, such as diabetes and weight gain.
Instead of reaching for the prescription pad, doctors could be thinking of non-drug alternatives to treat ADHD, such as counselling, the researchers say.
(Source: Health Services Research, 2012; 47: 836-60).