According to a study conducted by Columbia University, the number of kids between the ages of 2 and 5 prescribed antipsychotic drugs doubled between 2000 and 2007. An FDA report indicates that over 500,000 children and teens were on antipsychotic drugs in the United States in 2009. Some doctors believe medication is necessary for children with severe emotional problems, mood swings, or those afflicted by autism disorder. Others feel the use of antipsychotic drugs could pose very serious health consequences to a child’s developing brain and body. A group of Medicaid doctors recommended more oversight including outside consultations and second opinions before medication is given to very young children. The FDA has also issued warnings, and a Senate panel recently asked the Government Accountability Office to look into the high numbers of foster youths on psychotropic drugs. What’s accounting for the increasing numbers? Is it because doctors are better able to identify and treat mental health issues in children? Or are some parents medicating their children because they are ill-equipped or unable to handle temper tantrums? Or is it because medication is less expensive option to more traditional psychotherapy?
Mark Olfson, professor of clinical psychiatry at Columbia University
Mary Margaret Gleason, MD FAAP, Assistant Professor, Pediatrics, Psychiatry & Neurology, Tulane University School of Medicine
Charles H. Zeanah, a child psychiatrist at Tulane University