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New Antipsychotic Drugs Carry Risks for Children

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There has been much controversy over the last few years or so, as to whether children who have mental illnesses or behavioral problems should be medicated and if medicated, what harm may these powerful medications cause to such young children. This article points out many possible risk associated with medicating young children and even more so, how difficult it is to even diagnose children with the appropriate disorder.

As science is always improving, so are the medications that are available. For mental disorders there is a new class of antipsychotic; Atypical Antipsychotics. These second generation antipsychotic medications are designed to treat schizophrenia and bipolar disorders and to lessen the chance of certain side effects that can be permanent. While improvement for one side effect is progressing there are still many more side effect possibilities. Of the six atypical antipsychotics available in the United States, non are approved for use in children. Those other side effects have shown to cause great harm within children.

You may wonder, why are these drugs being prescribed to children at all? It seems to be a difficult question to answer as there are many possible answers.

Some children have such severe mood swings and behavioral problems that their parents feel as if there is no other choice. Leaving psychiatrist with not much room for other options. For some psychiatrist, insurance companies only reimburse for prescriptions rather than treatment ( Elias 3). Whether the answer is either of the above or something else, no one knows. But what is known is that although these medications may help some, there are not designed for children and the effects have not been studied. For many troubled children these medications are prescribed at an age where their brains are still developing. Thus interfering with the natural development and not letting time take its course to really see what the issue may be.

Not to mention the side effects, the milder side effects associated with antipsychotics, but are greatly affecting children include; weight gain, tremors, sedation and an increase in cardiovascular disease. For one girl she gained 100 pounds in a year and after three years she has only been able to lose a portion of that (1). The problem with the weight gain, not just for children but everyone, is the potential for developing diabetes. One of the most common side effects of antipsychotics is developing Tardive Dyskinesia which results in involuntary movements. TD is known to be a result of taking antipsychotics for a long period of time and seem to not appear until after usage has stopped. TD is also a potentially permanent condition (2). While there are children who have been effected temporarily or permanently by the side effects associated with these medication, there are far too many who have suffered grave effects. There have been 45 child deaths, as of 2006, with atypical antipsychotics



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