"Some of these kids are maintained on these medications for many years if not indefinitely, so it's definitely a concern," said Ronald T. Brown, dean and professor of public health at Temple University Health Sciences Center in Philadelphia. "For children who really don't absolutely need these drugs, they need to be doing more behavioral approaches in psychotherapy."
In an accompanying editorial, Drs. Christopher K. Varley and Jon McClellan of Seattle Children's Hospital concluded that large, independently funded studies are needed to establish the long-term safety and benefit of these drugs in children.
"Until those data are available, consideration of less risky treatment interventions and scrupulous attention to metabolic parameters in children and adolescents who receive atypical antipsychotic medications are essential," they wrote.
Correll, in fact, is currently involved in a longer-term follow-up study to assess the health effects of these drugs in children over an extended period of time.
For now, he advises clinicians and families to carefully weigh the risks and benefits of the medications against the risk of the illness, and to consider other pharmaceutical and non-pharmaceutical options. It's also important to teach children about healthy lifestyles and to closely monitor kids' weight, lipid levels and blood glucose, he said.
The National Institute of Mental Health has more on mental health medications.
SOURCES: Christoph Correll, M.D., medical director, Recognition and Prevention Program, Zucker Hillside Hospital, and scientist, Center for Psychiatric Neuroscience, Feinstein Institute for Medical Research, Manhasset, N.Y.; Jea
All rights reserved