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Kids Growing Up on Grown Up Drugs: New Research Shows Treatments for Adult Ailments Rapidly Rising in Children
Date:5/15/2008

ldren on proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) -- medications used to treat heartburn and gastrointestinal reflux disease (GERD) -- rose 137 percent in the same time frame. Prescription sleep aid use showed the slowest growth over the seven-year period, up 34 percent among all children; but was almost twice as high (62 percent) for children ages 10-19. One encouraging sign is that the prevalence of children on hypnotics actually declined from 2006 to 2007, suggesting that physicians and parents may be rethinking the use of these medications in children.

Adding Pediatric Pressures to an Overburdened Health Care System

This research also raises serious questions about how well-equipped our health care system is for dealing with these growing numbers of young people afflicted with adult conditions. According to a recent study in The Journal of Pediatrics, the number of practicing pediatric endocrinologists, specialists who treat diabetes patients, is not keeping pace with the growth in the prevalence of childhood diabetes. The study found that there is only one endocrinologist available for every 290 children with diabetes and every 17,000 obese children who may be at risk for developing diabetes. Studies have also shown shortages in other pediatric subspecialties which could severely impact the care necessary for children with cardiovascular and gastrointestinal problems.

"Our pediatric specialist care system is already overtaxed; we could be facing a real crisis if these adult conditions become increasingly prevalent in children and require specialized care," said Dr. Robert Epstein, Medco's chief medical officer. "We're also looking at potentially hundreds of millions of dollars in added health care costs with children developing chronic conditions early in life that could extend into their adulthood."

Rx for Safe Medication Use

With increasing medication use among the pediatric population, ensuring that prescription drugs are being utiliz
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SOURCE Medco Health Solutions, Inc.
Copyright©2008 PR Newswire.
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