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Use of Kids' Meds on the Increase
Date:11/3/2008

Obesity and its complications driving the trend, researchers say

MONDAY, Nov. 3 (HealthDay News) -- Medication use among children across the United States is dramatically increasing as more kids are being treated for diabetes, asthma and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), researchers report.

Increased prescribing may be due in large part to increasing obesity among children and the health consequences of that trend, researchers say.

"Across all the medication classes we looked at, the rates of use increased -- sometimes dramatically," said study co-author Dr. Donna Halloran, an assistant professor of pediatrics at St. Louis University. "This is particularly concerning, given that several of these diagnoses have been linked to obesity -- diabetes, hypertension, depression, asthma."

The report was published in the November issue of Pediatrics.

For the study, Halloran's team looked at medication use among U.S. children from 2002 to 2005. Using a database of prescription claims from children with private health insurance, they were able to find prescriptions for almost 4 million children.

The researchers found that over four years, prescriptions for children aged 5 to 19 increased significantly. Among two drugs to treat type 2 diabetes, the use doubled. This increase was due to a 166 percent increase in prevalence of the disease among girls aged 10 to 14, and a 135 percent increase in prevalence among girls age 15 to 19.

In addition, the use of drugs to treat asthma rose by 46.5 percent, and the use of drugs to treat ADHD grew by 40.4 percent. The number of prescriptions for cholesterol-lowering drugs rose by 15 percent, the researchers found.

Halloran's group also found more modest increases in the use of blood pressure drugs and antidepressants (1.8 percent).

The increased rate of prescribing was much higher for girls than boys. For example, the
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